How to Prepare for a Flood

March is Flood Awareness Month

flooded street with flood caution sign3/16-3/23 is Flood Awareness Week in Minnesota no matter where you live, spring time can bring the possibility of flooding to your area.  With that said, it is a good idea to be aware of the different types of terms used to describe flooding and to be prepared in case of a flood.

Flood Watch:

This is issued when flooding is possible in the area that you live.  Stay tuned to your local news via TV, Radio or a NOAA radio for further information.

Flood Warning:

This is issued when flooding is actually happening or will occur soon in your area.  Evacuate the area immediately if you are advised to do so.

Flash Flood Warning:

Issued when a flash flood is occurring or will occur soon.  Walk to higher ground immediately.

Urban and Small Stream Advisory:

Issued when small streams, streets and low-lying areas are flooding.

Preparing for a Possible Flood

  1. Purchase a NOAA weather radio with battery backup.
  2. Find out what your communities official flood warning signals are.
  3. Know the elevation level of your property and how flooding may affect it.
  4. Identify any dams in the area and find out if they pose a hazard.
  5. Check with your city in regards to flood evacuation routes and where to find higher ground.
  6. Put together a disaster kit, include flash lights, a battery operated radio or NOAA weather radio and extra batteries.  Pack a first aid kit, sleeping supplies and clothing.  Stock up on shelf stable food and bottled water. Include rubber gloves and rubber boots.  If you have pets, include food and pet carriers.
  7. Place important documents such as insurance policies, deeds, property documents and personal documents (i.e. social security cards and birth certificates) in a safe place offsite.  You can also keep these documents in a fire proof portable file box that you can take with you in an emergency.
  8. Have a predetermined meeting location for family members to go to in case you get separated due to an evacuation.  Ask an out of town relative to be a point of contact for family members.  Family members can call this person and report to them that they are safe.

Prepare your home

  1. Familiarize yourself with how to shut off you water, gas and electricity at the main switches and valves.  Learn how your heating system works and where gas pilots are located on your gas appliances. Before you leave turn the electricity off at the main breaker if you think your electrical outlets will be under water.  If time allows place sandbags around the outside of your home to help keep the flood waters out.
  2. If you live in an area that has a high potential for flooding consider having a licensed plumber install an interior or exterior backflow valve.  Have your electrical outlets, switches and circuit breaker panel installed 12 inches above the expected flood levels for the area.
  3. Consider purchasing flood insurance. Regular homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage. You must purchase separate flood insurance to be covered in case of a flood.  First check to make sure your community is registered for the national flood program, then check with your insurance agent for pricing.  In some cases, you may need a certificate of elevation to get the best rate.  Flood insurance policies take a minimum of 30 days to go into effect from the time of submission, unless mandatory coverage is requested for a loan.  Insurance companies may not issue you a policy if there is a threat of flooding in your area due to an impending storm (like a hurricane).

By: Christine Gaffron, Insurance Advisors

Mold & Your Home

Having mold present in your home causes a musty odor and can be hazardous to your health.

Black Mold| Homeowners InsuranceIf your home is flooded by a severe storm, a leaky roof or a broken pipe, mold spores could begin to spread due to the excessive moisture. Even though it is not visible, mold can still be lurking on certain objects within the household. Whether or not mold is covered by homeowners insurance often comes down to the source of moisture and the wording of a policy. Most basic homeowners insurance policies exclude coverage of damage caused by mold, fungi, and bacteria. Yet that doesn’t mean a mold claim will be denied automatically.

In most cases, if mold results from a sudden and accidental covered peril, such as a pipe bursting, the cost of remediation should be covered. That’s because technically the pipe burst is the reason for the claim, not the mold itself. Claims are more likely to be rejected if mold is caused by neglected home maintenance; long-term exposure to humidity, or repeated water leaks and seepage.

Moisture prevention is the key

The surest way to avoid having a claim denied is keeping mold at bay in the first place. Preventing mold and eliminating mold when it does occur are critical to protecting the value of your home.

To help prevent mold growth in your home, we suggest following these guidelines:

  • Lower indoor humidity with air conditioners, dehumidifiers, and exhaust fans.
  • Inspect hoses and fittings on appliances, sinks and toilets.
  • Use household cleaners with mold-killing ingredients like bleach.
  • Opt for paints and primers that contain mold inhibitors.
  • Clean gutters to avoid overflow and check roof for leaks.
  • Avoid carpet in wet areas like basements and bathrooms.
  • Remove and dry carpet, padding, and upholstery within 48 hours of flooding.

Generally, if items have been wet for two days or longer, mold has had the opportunity to set in. Other items that are made of more porous material may be at risk of mold infestation sooner than two days.  Remove carpet, wood or laminate flooring as mold can become trapped between the sub floor and the floor covering. Throw away sofas, chairs and mattresses that have sustained water damage. Contact a mold inspector through the help of your Insurance Advisor’s agent.

Warning

Because of the unknown effects to your health, vacate your home during the mold removal process. Never re-enter your mold-infested home without wearing a mask.

Sources: houselogic.com
ehow.com

Flood Insurance: The Basics

What’s Covered

Homes flooded with high waters.As with any other type of insurance, it’s important to know what your policy does and does not cover. By now, you probably know that flood insurance covers flood damage, but you probably don’t know all of the details.

Building Property

  • The insured building & its foundation
  • Electrical & plumbing systems
  • Central air conditioning equipment, furnaces & water heaters
  • Refrigerators, cooking stoves & built-in appliances such as dishwashers
  • Permanently installed carpeting over unfinished flooring
  • Permanently installed paneling, wallboard, bookcases & cabinets
  • Window blinds
  • Detached garages (up to 10% of building property coverage); detached buildings (other than  garages) require a separate building property policy
  • Debris removal

Personal Contents

  • Personal belongings, such as clothing, furniture & electronic equipment
  • Curtains; portable & window air conditioners
  • Portable microwave ovens & portable dishwashers
  • Carpets that are not included in building coverage
  • Clothing washers & dryers
  • Food freezers & food items in them
  • Certain valuable items such as original artwork & furs (up to $2,500)

The Basics | Flood Insurance: What Isn’t Covered | How to Prepare for a Flood