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