If you live in a high-risk flood area, there is no excuse for not being adequately prepared when a flood strikes. Flooding can occur at any time of the year, often without warning. It is one of the most devastating forces of nature and can destroy homes, uproot families, and tragically take lives. It has cost the US more than $260 billion in damage since 1980, and with the effects of global warming, this is only going to increase.
The last thing you want is for flooding to destroy your home, obliterating your belongings and forcing you and your family to move. Even if the area in which you live is located in a flood zone, there are several steps you can take to eliminate the risk and mitigate the effects if flooding does occur.
There are three key stages in the prevention of flooding in the home.
Flood risk evaluation
The first step to protecting your home from flooding is to know the precise level of risk in your area, and how well your home has been built to withstand flooding. You can check your level of flood risk by visiting the FEMA Flood Map Service. The service allows you to see the danger of flooding in any area of the United States, as well as viewing a detailed flood history of the region.
Once you have a better idea of the risk, you should contact a flood insurance agent to assess your property and determine how likely it is to withstand a severe flood.
They will identify any areas for concern, focusing primarily on factors such as the flood level, surface run-off, and pre-existing flood defenses.
Most homeowner’s insurance policies won’t cover you for flooding damage, so depending on your level of risk, you may also want to take out a separate flood insurance plan.
If you have evaluated the risk and deemed it sufficiently high, you should now take action to prevent a flood from entering your home. This can be done in several ways, which vary in the number of resources required to put them in place. Some of the most important techniques include:
Safeguarding electrical systems: Water will immediately damage anything electrical. Ensure that all appliances, plugs, sockets, and wiring are at least twelve inches above the flood level.
Installing drainage: You want flood water to drain away from your property as quickly as possible.
If it pools and lingers, it will cause lasting damage. Foundation vents allow the water to flow through and out of your home quickly, while sump pumps can be used to actively remove the water as it flows in.
If your home’s driveway or garden has pooling issues, consider installing drainage solutions such as Swiftdrain 8″ trench drain grates to mitigate the effects.
Adding flood-proof coatings: If there are cracks in your walls or foundations, water can seep in more easily. Flood-proof sealants and coatings can be purchased at most hardware stores to make your home more resistant to flooding.
Modifying water valves: Flooding is not just caused by bad weather, it could also be due to a backed-up sewage system. Consider installing gate valves or check valves on your pipes to avoid this.
Raising your home: Although a dramatic change, if your home is significantly below the flood level, you may want to consider raising it on stilts or piers to protect it.
No matter how well you have protected your home, if the flood is of epic proportions, it may not be enough. All you can do now is take steps to minimize the damage caused by the entering floodwaters. When a storm is on its way or the waters are rising, you will need to act quickly. Here are some effective actions you can take.
- Shut your electricity off at the circuit breaker, especially if it has not been safeguarded and raised above the flood level.
- Turn off the water line if the flooding is a result of faulty plumbing.
- Clear any gutters and drains of debris to allow the free flow of water.
- Place sandbags in critical areas where water is liable to enter your property.
- Move your valuables away from the floodwater.
- If it is not raining, open windows to allow water to flow more freely through your home and dry out your belongings much faster.
- Turn on your sump pump to remove water quickly.
Flooding can be extremely damaging to your home, but by taking the right steps and acting fast, you can avoid the worst-case scenario.