A flood is an overflow of water past its normal boundaries that submerges the land around it. Flooding may result from a body of water (a lake rising too high) or a river (when it flows out of the river channel). It can also be caused by a significant and unexpected event (a dam breaking) or as a result of another hazard (earthquake, tsunami, hurricane or volcanic eruption). Flooding can occur if too much water accumulates from rainfall that cannot soak into the ground or evaporate quickly enough. Even a beaver dam can flood low-lying areas.
Flooding can cause a significant amount of damage. It can affect buildings, roads, bridges, cars, sewer systems, and many other types of structures. It can lead to epidemics and diseases through contaminated water.
Clean drinking water can become scarce. Crops and food supplies can become a problem if there is a shortage of food crops due to the loss of entire harvests. Trees can die from suffocation. Most importantly, people and animals can die due to drowning.
"Be Prepared" is a motto we should all keep in mind regarding emergency situations. Preparing for floods by having an emergency plan should be a priority for every adult.
Preparations should include: be aware of local community emergency plans
be prepared to take any recommended action in order to reduce property damage and ensure personal safety
during a flood, quick action is important - have a crank radio (no batteries needed) to receive ongoing flood information
have an evacuation plan including different routes that can be taken out of the area if necessary
keep a 72-hour emergency kit near the door and in the trunk of your vehicle for easy access
apply weather protection sealant around basement windows and ground-level doors
have downspouts a sufficient distance from your home so water flows away from it
consider installing a sump pump in basement floor drains
store important documents at a high level
if you have a pet, include it in you emergency plan - take them with you whenever possible
When a flood is coming: turn off outside gas valve (have an appropriate wrench on hand) and furnace
safeguard electrical, natural gas or propane heating equipment (if time)
consider moving furniture, appliances and other belongings to floors above ground level
properly dispose of toxic substances (pesticides and insecticides) to prevent pollution
if time allows, plug basement sewer drains and toilet connections (after removing toilet bowls) with a wooden stopper
disconnect eaves troughs that are connected to the house sewer
NEVER attempt to shut off electricity if any water is present
in a farm setting, leave animals unaltered to avoid drowning in an enclosed area
During a flood: stay calm, level-headed and alert to your surroundings
keep your radio on to find out any pertinent emergency information - a crank radio is advisable (no batteries needed)
keep a 72-hour emergency kit close at hand
vacate your home when advised by local authorities
follow routes specified by officials (no shortcuts - they could lead to blocked or dangerous areas)
make arrangements for pets if you can't take them with you
if time, leave a note (possibly in your mailbox) informing others where you went
help others around you when help is needed
The emergency is not over when the flood waters recede. After the initial disaster situation is over: check your property for hazards
remove debris that has collected
check drinking water for contamination - don't drink it until you know it is safe
decontaminate your home (officials may provide advice on proper clean-up and decontamination and may assist if damage is serious)
have the main electrical panel, appliances, and heating system cleaned, dried, and tested by a qualified technician before using them
make sure the building is structurally safe - watch for buckled walls or floors, holes in the floor, broken glass, etc.
make any necessary revisions to your emergency plan to be better prepared the next time
Floods are the most frequent natural hazard in North America. They can occur at any time of the year and can cause major damage. But an emergency situation does not have to be a total disaster if you plan ahead. Be Prepared - Before Disaster Strikes!
At Survival Street our goal is to help you prepare for possible disasters. We aim to take the stress out of your emergency situation.
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