Live in a floodplain? Complete these 5 tasks now
Live in a floodplain? Complete these 5 tasks now
Floods are the most common natural disaster in the U.S. Unfortunately, most homeowners aren't as prepared for this natural disaster as they should be. It takes very little standing water to rack up an expensive insurance claim ... or to render a home structurally unsound. Worse yet, you could end up paying for these damages out of your own pocket.
You may not be able to stop a flood from coming, but by taking steps now to prepare your home and family, you can minimize your out-of-pocket costs and the time it takes to recover from a flood.
Facts about floodplain areas and flooding
Every geographical area in the U.S. is at some risk for flooding. You can learn about the risk in your area by checking with the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) Flood Map Service Center.
Just one inch of standing water in a home could result in $25,000 in damages.
Most floods develop slowly, but flash floods can occur with little to no warning. These floods may reach up to 20 feet high.
Floods have numerous causes: heavy rain or snow, tropical storms, and erupted dams, to name a few.
What to do before flooding hits
Complete these five tasks before a flood comes your way to help minimize the damages.
Task 1: Get a flood insurance policy.
The most important step you can take to protect yourself against flooding is to purchase a flood insurance policy. Traditional homeowners policies don't cover flood damage, leaving you to pay for the cost of repairs on your own. Most people cannot afford these out-of-pocket costs, which is why you need to have a flood insurance policy.
You can purchase one through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The cost of the policy depends on the risk of flooding in your area. A typical policy costs around $700 per year, or about $58 per month. Yours may be more or less than that. Even if flooding isn't particularly common where you live, it's a good idea to get a policy. About 25% of all flood insurance claims each year come from areas that were not considered to be at high risk for flooding, according to the NFIP.
Renters should look into getting flood insurance as well. You can purchase up to $100,000 of coverage for your possessions. This type of reimbursement would allow you to repair or replace items if they were damaged by floodwater.
Task 2: Create an emergency kit.
Severe flooding can knock out utilities and make it difficult for emergency personnel to get in with food and other necessary supplies. That's why it's important for you to have an emergency kit of your own. It's best to put it together before there's a risk of flooding because stores often run out of emergency supplies when people know a flood could be on its way.
Your emergency kit should contain the following:
A three-day supply of nonperishable food and three gallons of water for every member of your household
A first aid kit and any needed medications
Changes of clothing
Flashlights and extra batteries
A cell phone and a way to charge it
Personal hygiene items such as toothpaste and soap
Copies of important documents, including emergency contact information and a local map
Supplies that a pet might need, such as food and medication
Task 3: Establish an evacuation plan.
If flooding is severe, you may be advised to evacuate your home. You and your family should have multiple evacuation routes mapped out of town in case one of them is blocked. Make sure everyone knows these evacuation routes and the designated meeting place. Practice your evacuation plan periodically to ensure that all are familiar with it.
If flooding is not severe enough to require evacuation, seek shelter on the highest level of your home or on high ground nearby. Designate an emergency spot where you and your family can convene in the event of a flood.
Task 4: Prepare your home for a water invasion.
Before a flood strikes, there are things you can do to prepare your home and minimize damage. For example, you can clear your rain gutters of debris so water runs safely away from your foundation. You can stockpile sandbags, which help absorb some flood water when strategically placed around the lowest level of your home. You can make sure the sump pump in your basement is in working order. The average sump pump lasts about 10 years, so if yours is older than that, you may wish to replace it.
Task 5: Make a list of your belongings.
Everyone should have a home inventory in case of natural disaster. This is simply a collection of photographs and information documenting your possessions so you can prove what you owned if your items are damaged or carried away by a flood. Having this information on hand can make filing a flood insurance claim much easier.
Set aside some time to photograph the rooms and valuables in your home. Keep a copy of these photos in a safe spot so you can access them at any time.
You may not be able to stop a flood once it's on its way, but you can do a lot to minimize the toll it takes on your home and family. Knowing your flood risk and completing the five tasks listed above is a great way to start.
Kailey Fralick is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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