Flood Safety Tips

In case of a flooding emergency, call 911

Flood Safety Tips During and After a Flood

DURING A FLOOD - Keep safe during a flood by following these tips: 

  • Listen to your radio or TV for emergency information. Evacuate immediately if told to do so.
  • Do not walk or drive through floods. Even 6-inches of moving water can be dangerous.
  • Keep away from power lines.
  • Move to higher ground.
  • Do not enter buildings surrounded by flood water.
  • Avoid storm drains and sewers.
  • Watch for snakes and other animals that may seek shelter in your home.
  • If you have time, turn off utilities (gas and electric) and unplug appliances. Move essential and cherished items up off the ground or to an upper floor.

AFTER A FLOOD - What do you do after your home has been flooded? Follow these tips from the American Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency: 

  • Wait for the water to go down before entering your home.
  • Report downed power lines and gas leaks.
  • Turn off the electricity at the main breaker or fuse box. If you would have to step in water to get to your electric box, call an electrician instead.
  • Turn off the gas if you have gas appliances. Then, clean the mud out of the pilots and burners.
  • Check for structural damage.
  • Check the ceiling for signs of sagging. Poke a hole at the edge of the sag to drain water.
  • Find and protect the irreplaceable valuables such as money, jewelry, insurance papers, photographs and family heirlooms. Then, freeze them in plastic bags to protect them from mildew and further damage.
  • Circulate air through your home by opening windows.
  • Patch holes in the roof, walls, or windows with boards, tarps, or plastic sheeting.
  • Repair sagging floors or roof sections with 4x4s to brace weak areas.
  • Remove debris such as tree limbs and trash.
  • Check for broken or leaking water pipes. Do not drink, clean dishes, wash clothes, or cook with tap water until it has been declared safe.
  • Drain water in your basement slowly and carefully. Pump 2 to 3 feet of water out and wait overnight. If the water level has risen, it is too early to drain your basement. Draining basements too early may result in serious structural damage.
  • Shovel out as much mud as possible.
  • Hose the house down, inside and out.
  • Hose heating and air conditioning ducts which may have mud in them to rid them of health hazards.
  • Hose out light sockets and electrical boxes. First, make sure the electricity is off.
  • Wash duct work with a disinfectant or sanitizer such as a quaternary, phenolic, or pine-oil-based cleaner.
  • Keep records of damage to the building, damage to the contents, receipts for cleanup and restoration expenses, such as material, labor and equipment rental, and receipts for flood-related expenses such as motel bills.
  • Replace wallboard which can act like a sponge, soaking up bacteria and promoting the growth of mold.
  • Allow wood to dry naturally. It will usually regain its original shape.
  • Collect cleaning supplies such as brooms, mops, brushes, sponges, buckets, hoses, rubber gloves, rags, cleaning products, disinfectants, lubricating oil, trash bags, and a hair dryer.
  • Clean and disinfect everything in your house, including the walls, floors, closest, shelves, and all the contents - cover every flooded part of your house.

For a complete book on Repairing Your Flooded Home, contact FEMA Publications, P.O. Box 70274, Washington, DC 20024.

The Red Cross Flood Safety Checklist is another helpful resource. 

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