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It’s never too early to begin preparing for heavy rains and flash floods. Print out these suggestions from emergency workers, first responders, police officers and firefighters for planning ahead.
- How to Prepare for Floods
- Emergency Preparedness Items
- Your Home and Property
- Prepare a Home Inventory
- Additional Information

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How to Prepare for Floods

Learn About Floods
  1. Learn flood-warning signs and your community's alert signals by calling your city hall or mayor's office. Many cities have their own criteria for sounding alarms.
Create an Emergency Evacuation Plan
  1. Create an emergency exit plan for your home. In the event of rising waters, you'll need to exit in a hurry.
    • Designate a place for family to meet outside the neighborhood. Make sure all family members know the address and phone number.
  2. Plan in advance where to go if you are asked to evacuate your home. Take some time to really think about it; consider more than one option such as a relative's home, a hotel, or a shelter.
    • Know where emergency shelters are located. Contact your local emergency management office or American Red Cross for information on designated public shelters.
    • Know the emergency response plan for your workplace, your children's school or child care center, as well as other places where your family spends time (i.e. church, gym, rec center).
  3. Learn safe routes to higher ground. You may need to drive 20 to 50 miles to locate a safe place. Remember to map more than one route, in case bridges are out or roads are blocked.
  4. Keep your car's gas tank full if you may need to evacuate. During emergencies filling stations may be closed. Never store extra fuel in the garage - this could be dangerous.
  5. Always have extra cash on hand (at least $100 or so) because ATMs and credit card machines won't work if the power's out. Do this even if you aren't planning to evacuate.

  6. Print out and fill in your WHN Contact List. Print copies of the Emergency Contact List and keep them by your phones for easy access.
    • Ask an out-of-state friend to be your "family contact." After a disaster, it's often easier to call long distance.
  7. Meet with neighbors either informally or through a neighborhood group to create a neighborhood preparedness plan.
    • Make a note of neighbors or nearby relatives who may require extra assistance. Write down their names and phone numbers, if you don't have them already. Keep this list with your emergency kit or your emergency contact list.

Emergency Preparedness Items

  1. Prepare a readily available and fully stocked Home Disaster Preparedness Kit (Click on the list for a printable list to print out.)
  2. WHN TIP: Disaster Kit Drill

    Pick a night when everyone is home. Turn off the TV and lights, don’t use the faucets, fridge or the stove. Check and see what items are missing (special needs for family members, can opener, etc.). Make a list and add these items to your kit.

  3. Have a car emergency kit. Include water, first aid, and a way to signal need for help, flashlight & batteries, warm blankets, a shovel, and a battery-operated radio.
  4. Add a NOAA Weather Radio to your home and car emergency kits.
    • If there is a severe warning in your area, a NOAA Weather Radio automatically turns on and alerts you with beeps and sirens. It even alerts you if the power is out (the radios have battery back-up).
    • Look for NOAA radios with "SAME" feature (Specific Area Message Encoding) which means the receiver is capable of turning itself on from a silent mode.
  5. Consider enrolling yourself and/or family members in first aid and emergency preparedness courses such as those offered by the Red Cross.
    • Adult family members should know how to turn off the water, gas and electricity at the main valves or switches. Family members should also know CPR, how to help someone who is choking and first aid for severe bleeding and shock.

    WHN TIP: In Case of Emergency (ICE)

    In the event of an emergency or after an accident, emergency personnel use your cell phone to look for "ICE": who to contact In Case of an Emergency. Here's how to do it.

  6. Buy extra fire extinguishers and teach each family member how to use a fire extinguisher and have a central place to keep it.

Your Home and Property

Along with the tips below, we've pulled together a quick list of general indoor and outdoor precautions you can take to improve your "shelter from the storm." See Links for additional resources.

WHN TIP: Flood Insurance

A flood insurance policy also reimburses you for actions you take to prevent flood damage. For example, costs for moving insured contents, in imminent danger of flooding, to a safe location are reimbursed up to $1,000 with no deductible. Other costs, such as for sandbags, plastic sheeting and lumber, pumps, fill for temporary levees, and wood to save the building can be reimbursed up to a limit of $1,000 with no deductible. See our article Purchasing Flood Insurance for more information.

Before you begin your work, make sure you'll do it right and contact your local building official. He or she can let you know what the codes are required and can provide you with assistance so that you can make improvements properly the first time.

Prepare a Home Inventory

  1. Create a household inventory - videotape, photograph or compile a written inventory of your home and belongings. (See our article Create a Household Inventory)
  2. Update your inventory every year or so and every time a major purchase is made or significant renovations are undertaken in your home or on your property.
  3. Prepare a Master Information Box which contains copies of important documents and records, photos and contact information.

Additional Information

Thank you ...

A special thank you to the first responders, emergency workers, government officials, lawyers, insurance agents and people who gave us their time, insight and real-life advice. And, thanks to the sites that we have in our Links section.

Last Updated: 6/2008


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