|| Even if you've never
experienced a flood, you ought to know what to do if floodwaters threaten
you, your family and your community.
The following tips from the National Flood Insurance Program are
given as suggested guidelines for action. If you find yourself in
a flood situation and do not know what to do, check with your local
STEPS TO TAKE TODAY
Create a home inventory -- an itemized list of personal property,
including furnishings, clothing, and valuables. Photographs of your
home - inside and out - are helpful. These will assist your insurance
adjuster in settling claims and will help prove uninsured losses,
which are tax deductible. NW Insurance Council offers a free, downloadable
Home Inventory software from the
Insurance Information Institute.
- Learn the safest route from your home or place of business to
high, safe ground if you should have to evacuate in a hurry.
- Keep a portable radio, emergency cooking equipment and flashlights
in working order. Keep extra batteries on hand.
- Buy Flood Insurance. You should contact your property/casualty
agent or company about Flood Insurance, which is offered through
the National Flood Insurance Program. Generally, there is a 30-day
waiting period for this policy to become effective, so don't wait
for flood waters to begin flowing.
- Keep your insurance policies and your home inventory in a safe
place, such as a safe deposit box. Know the name, phone number
and location of the agent(s) who issued your policies.
- People who live in high-risk flood areas should keep on hand
materials such as sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting and lumber,
which can be used to protect property. (Remember, sandbags
should not be stacked directly against the outer walls of a building.
Wet bags may create added pressure to the foundation.)
WHEN THE FLOOD COMES
Safety is the most important consideration. Since floodwaters
can rise very rapidly, be prepared to evacuate before the water
level reaches your property.
- Keep a battery powered radio tuned to a local station, and follow
all instructions for your area. Be prepared to evacuate.
- When outside the house, remember floods are deceptive. Avoid
flooded roads, and don't attempt to walk through floodwaters.
- If time permits, there are several precautionary steps that
can be taken:
- Turn off all utilities at the main power switch and close
the main gas valve if evacuation is likely. Do not touch any
electrical equipment unless it is in a dry area and you are
standing on a piece of dry wood while wearing rubber gloves
and rubber-soled boots or shoes.
- Move valuable papers and possessions like furs, jewelry and
clothes to upper floors or higher elevations.
- Fill bathtubs, sinks and jugs with clean water in case regular
supplies are contaminated. You can sanitize these items by first
rinsing with bleach.
- Board up windows or protect them with storm shutters.
- Bring outdoor possessions inside the house, or tie them down.
This includes lawn furniture, garbage cans, tools, signs and
other movable objects that might be swept away or hurled about.
If it is safe to evacuate by car, you should consider the following:
- Stock the car with non-perishable foods, (liked canned
goods), a plastic container of water, blankets, first aid
kit, flashlights, dry clothing and any special medication needed
by your family.
- Keep the gas tank at least half full. Gasoline pumps will
not be working if the electricity is cut off.
- Do not drive where the water is over the roads. Parts of the
road may already be washed out.
- If your car stalls in a flooded area, abandon it as soon as
possible. Floodwaters can rise rapidly and sweep a car away.
Many deaths have resulted from attempts to move stalled vehicles.
If you're caught in your home by rising waters, move to the second
floor and then the roof. Take warm clothing, a flashlight and
a portable radio with you. Then wait for help. Don't try to swim
to safety. Rescue teams will be looking for you.
AFTER THE FLOOD
If your home, apartment or business has suffered flood damage, immediately
call the agent or company who handles your Flood Insurance policy.
The agent will then submit a loss form to the National Flood Insurance
Program. An adjuster will be assigned to inspect your property as
soon as possible.
- Prior to entering a building, check for structural damage. Make
sure it'is not in danger of collapsing. Turn off any outside gas
lines at the meter or tank. If you smell gas, call your utility
- Upon entering the building, do not use an open flame as a source
of light because gas may still be trapped inside. Use a battery-operated
- Watch for downed electrical wires. Make certain the main power
switch is turned off. Do not turn on lights or appliances until
an electrician has checked the system for short circuits.
- Cover broken windows and holes in the roof or walls to prevent
further weather-related damage.
- Proceed with immediate clean up measures to prevent any health
hazards. Perishable items pose a health problem and should be
listed and photographed before discarding. Throw out fresh food
and medicines that have come in contact with floodwaters.
- Drinking water and preparing food can be done only if the
public water system has been declared safe. In an emergency,
water may be obtained by draining a hot water tank or melting
- Take pictures of damage to your building and its contents. Refrigerators,
sofas and other hard goods should be hosed off and kept for the
adjuster's inspection. Use a household cleaner to clean items
you plan to keep. Any partially damaged items should be dried.
The adjuster will make recommendations for repairs or disposal.
- Take all wooden furniture outdoors to dry, but keep it out of
direct sunlight to prevent warping. A garage or carport is a good
place for drying. Remove drawers and other moving parts as soon
as possible, but do not pry open swollen drawers from the front.
Instead, remove the backing and push the drawers out.
- Shovel out mud while it is still moist to give walls and floors
a chance to dry. Once plastered walls have dried, brush off loose
dirt. Wash with household cleanser and rinse with clean water;
always start at the bottom and work up. Ceilings are done
last. Special attention must also be paid to cleaning out heating
ducts and plumbing systems.
- Mildew can be removed from dry wood with a solution of 1 cup
liquid chlorine bleach, in 1 gallon of water.
- Clean metal at once and then wipe with a kerosene-soaked cloth.
A light coat of oil will prevent iron from rusting. Scour all
utensils, and, if necessary, use fine steel wool on unpolished
surfaces. Aluminum may be brightened by scrubbing with a solution
of vinegar, cream of tartar and hot water.
- Quickly separate all laundry items to avoid running colors.
Clothing or household fabrics should be allowed to dry (slowly,
away from direct heat) before brushing off loose dirt. If
you cannot get a professional cleaner, rinse the items with mild
detergent. Rinse and dry in sunlight.
- Flooded basements should be drained and cleaned carefully. Structural
damage will occur if water is pumped out too quickly. After
the floodwaters around your property have subsided, begin draining
the basement in stages, about one-third of the water volume each
WHAT DOES NATIONAL FLOOD INSURANCE MEAN
Until the late 1960s, Flood Insurance was practically unavailable
to home and business owners. Congress voted in 1968 to create the
National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). This Federal program provides
Flood Insurance at reasonable cost in exchange for the careful management
of flood-prone areas by local communities.
Today, you can insure almost any enclosed building and its contents
against flood loss, as long as your community is participating in
the NFIP. Remember, standard Homeowners Insurance policies don'cover
flood loss. For more details on Flood Insurance protection, call
your agent or company today.
Make it your policy to protect your family against devastating