How to Make Your Home Safe From a Flood
Each year, many homes are subjected to minor or severe floods. Even a modest flood in a home can result in significant property damage, but these events can also take a toll on human health and well-being.
Whether your home is located in a floodplain or not, it may be subject to flooding at some point in time. It is important to identify your risks for a home flood and to determine what steps to take during and after a flood to keep you and your home’s occupants safe.
Determining If Your Home Is In a High-Risk Flood Area
Some homes are far more susceptible to major flood events than others. For example, homes that are located near waterways, such as oceans, lakes and rivers, may be more likely to be flooded if those bodies of water become engorged.
Flooding of these bodies of water may commonly occur during major weather events, such as major rain storms, hurricanes and more. However, they can also occur when factors upstream occur. For example, if a dam breaks, flood waters may rage down a river and affect a home hundreds of miles away. Even homes that are in low-lying areas away from bodies of water may be susceptible to flooding.
Flood Prevention Steps
Flooding events can become more serious and problematic for homeowners when proper steps have not been taken to allow water to flow naturally away from the home. By following a few flood prevention steps now, homeowners will be able to minimize the risk of their home being flooded.
For example, sealants and other coverings can be installed in basements and over ground-level doors and windows. These can help to make the home more waterproof and minimize the likelihood that water will penetrate into the home. If your home has a basement, investing in a sump pump can be beneficial. This is a device that pumps water that has penetrated into the basement up and out of the home. Also, cleaning gutters and downspouts on a regular basis will help water to be channeled away from the home during major rain events.
When a Flood Event Is Imminent
Monitoring the weather forecast regularly can help homeowners to be aware of flooding dangers that may be imminent. When a significant amount of rainfall is expected over a short period of time, for example, the ground may have a difficult time absorbing the water, and water may easily accumulate above ground. When a weather forecast indicates a flash flood warning or watch is in effect, steps should be taken to prepare the home for the event.
Trash that is stored in an outdoor dumpster should be removed from the area around the home as far as possible. The basement should be cleared of as many belongings as possible or moved to an elevated area. If there are toxic substances stored in the basement or ground level of the home, these should be removed. When exposed to flood waters, they can leak into the water and expose you and others to toxins.
Appliances should be unplugged if possible, and they should be moved out of the basement or ground floor or placed on blocks so that they are elevated off the floor. It is also advisable to turn off the sources of gas and electrical power to the home before a flooding event occurs.
Finally, a flood kit should be on hand for the health and safety of the home’s occupants, and this kit may include a battery-operated flashlight, a cell phone, a first aid-kit, non-perishable food items, fresh water and other similar items.
Steps to Take During a Flood
During a flooding event, the most important steps to take involve ensuring the safety of you and your family. Flood waters can rise quickly, and these waters can rage out of control at times. Therefore, any steps to secure your property should be secondary to ensuring your safety during a flood.
If possible, monitor local news sources, such as television stations or the radio, to monitor the status of flood waters and weather conditions. You should pay attention to requests to evacuate certain areas and should follow the instructions of local authorities.
Avoid driving or walking into flooded areas, and always seek higher ground if possible. If inside the home, move to the upper floor of the home, and be sure to transport your flood kit with you if possible.
Steps to Take After a Flood
Depending on the severity of the flood, you may have evacuated or remained in the home during the event. After the flood, you should continue to heed warnings for evacuations and follow the rules of local authorities for your safety.
When you are permitted to return to your home, be aware that the structure of the home may have been affected, and wildlife may have sought refuge from the flood waters inside your home. You should enter the home with caution, looking for signs of structural damage such as small cracks, wood rot and more that may indicate structural weaknesses. You should be observant of dangers related to leaking gas or loose electrical power lines.
In addition, keep your eyes open for small animals, bugs and snakes that may be in the home. Flood waters can contain toxic chemicals, raw sewage and other dangerous or even lethal substances. Because of this, you should avoid walking into flood waters if possible, and you should wear protective boots, clothing and rubber gloves while cleaning the home of debris. The initial goal may be to dry the home out, so taking steps like using fans and opening up doors and windows can be helpful.
If possible, contact a professional water remediation company immediately for assistance. This type of company can use professional extraction methods to remove water quickly and safely. This can minimize the risk of mold growth in the home. The company may also provide disinfection services, and this may be beneficial for your health as items that were exposed to flood waters may be riddled with harmful bacteria. Some items that were exposed to flood waters may be unsalvageable and may need to be removed from the home. These include items like medications, cosmetics, rugs and other related items.
Plumbing Issues That Lead to Indoor Flooding
Some floods may be caused by plumbing issues in the home. These types of water emergencies are easily preventable through regular monitoring and maintenance. Homeowners should be aware of the most common issues that can lead to indoor flooding.
Our drains are put through a lot, and it's common for them to become clogged over time. While there are products on the market that can prove helpful in breaking these clogs apart, sometimes the issue can become too complicated for this to prove helpful. The investment in professional help is crucial, and it's far cheaper than the costs of the water damage restoration that could easily follow when you don't correctly address the issue. This is an easy problem to detect early on. Be on the lookout for water that seems to drain very slowly.
Leaks on the intake hoses of washing machines should be repaired quickly as well. In fact, one of the most common insurance claims filed by homeowners is for flooding resulting from a faulty family washing machine. There are a few effective ways to prevent falling victim to this all-too-common issue. For starters, consider replacing your rubber hoses with braided ones. You should also consider the installation of a washing machine shut-off valve. This helps maintain peace-of-mind as pooling water is automatically detected and causes the unit to shut off on its own.
If you have a septic tank, there is a unique flooding issue you could face. Sometimes these devices malfunction, and sewage can begin to build up and pose flooding concerns. Flooding resulting from sewage can be especially difficult to overcome as well as pose dangerous health hazards.
Lastly, water heaters are an often overlooked source of indoor flooding, and failure to notice this problem during the early phases can cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in repairs. If you've noticed water pooling around your appliance or even minimal moisture on the ground surrounding the water heater, you should have it checked out.
Not only can this help you avoid a flooding issue, but it could also help you preserve the water heater and keep it safe from future issues.