How to Survive a Flood

… And Protect Yourself and Your Belongings

A flood is something that you can prepare for.

No one wants to experience a natural disaster, and one of the reasons for this is that they are absolutely unpredictable. 

Fires, floods, droughts – all of these have the potential to be devastating to those who experience them, meaning a long and difficult recovery period, even when no one is physically injured. In natural disasters like these, the mental toll that is taken on a person or a group of people is often much more impactful than the physical. 

It may seem impossible to do since you cannot control the weather, but there are a few things that people can do to ensure that they know how to survive a flood to the best of their ability. It starts with planning – but it also includes keeping a level head and taking precautions. 

Many government-sponsored websites offer flood survival tips from experts and those that have experienced this type of disaster, but the right plan will be different for everyone, so it is important to be flexible while preparing your home, family, and personal belongings. 

Who needs to know how to survive a flood? 

It’s not only those that live in areas where flooding is common that need to be prepared for this type of event to occur.

Low-lying and coastal areas are much more likely to experience flooding, but the truth is that heavy rain and storms can hit just about anywhere – and even of the flood is not caused by a hurricane or torrential downpour, people’s homes can get flooded as the result of occurrences like burst pipes, earthquakes or even simple accidents, too. 

While it’s not required in every location to have flood insurance, homeowners should speak with their insurance agents and see if this is recommended for them, even just as an add-on to their existing policy. 

How to survive a flood - insurance

The more you know about the potential for flooding, the more time you’ll have to prepare – and to decide what the best course of action is for you. 

Flood safety tips: Before the flood

These may seem like common sense tips and suggestions, but some of them are keys to survival when it comes to dealing with water damage or a flooded home. 

  1. Understand the risk level based on where you are located. There are resources that can be used to assess your flood risk, find evacuation and safety routes, provide contact numbers for police and fire departments, as well as give you a checklist of things that you should be aware of as safety measures. 
  1. Store important items in a waterproof box. This will ensure that even if water gets into the home, important things like birth certificates, passports, property deeds, licenses and other important paperwork are protected. It is also recommended that these documents – in the box or out – are stored on an upper level of the home whenever possible and not the basement. 

Another item that people commonly put in these boxes? Jewelry.

  1. Document everything within the home. Sometimes, no matter how well you prepare for something like a flood, there will be damage. Having pictures, lists or even videos of your possessions can make filing insurance claims much simpler. 
  1. Educate your family on your flood plan. This may mean designating a meeting spot, assigning everyone a specific task (making sure to grab an item, finding a sibling, locating a pet) … these plans will be different for everyone, but having them can help ensure safety. 
  1. Stockpile some supplies like non-perishable food and bottled water. This might seem strange to suggest, but having these products on hand will ensure that even if your home needs repairs, or you have to take shelter within the home until the water recedes, you won’t go hungry or thirsty. 
How to survive a flood - water

Another tip is to ensure basic medical supplies are easily available, too.

  1. Charge devices (buying battery backups is recommended) and have items like candles, flashlights and matches or lighters on hand. Electricity is often lost during floods, and this will keep you out of the dark for as long as necessary. 

Flood safety tips: During the flood

Going through a disaster like a flood can and will be chaotic. It’s common for people to forget things during the actual event, but this is why having a plan before is essential: the better prepared you are, the more likely you are to remember most of the important things. 

Never forget: The most important thing to protect while actually experiencing a flood is life. 

Possessions can always be replaced, but your family members cannot. It may even be tempting to focus on pets, but you should only do this once you’ve assured that all human family members are safe and secure. 

How to survive - evacuation route

Evacuate when this is recommended – don’t wait

This can put you into unnecessary danger. If possible, turn off the electricity and gas feeding into the home. This is especially important if you’re evacuating and do not know when you will be able to return. Moving to high ground is the best possible way to stay safe in a flood, but you will need to stay as calm as possible while doing so. 

Sure, it’s bound to be scary, but as long as you’re thinking clearly, you’ll know what to do next. 

How to survive a flood - water damage

Flood Safety Tips: After the water recedes 

Even a minor flood is likely to cause damage to the home, so the first thing that you’ll need to do whenever it is safe to return to your home is assess the damage. Since it is likely that many people will have also experienced this flood, it can take time for insurance inspectors to come out to the home, so anything you can do to help them is recommended. 

  • Take pictures and videos. 
  • Don’t try to reconnect utilities. 
  • Begin cleaning in stages – the sooner you remove water damaged items from the home, the better. 

Some things may be able to be salvaged and dried out, but the longer you leave soaked carpets or furniture in the home, the more likely they are to mold, rot and attract bugs. Taking small steps to begin cleanup and recovery may not seem like much, but in some cases, it’s all you can do while you wait 

It’s alright to be upset about the losses you have experienced during a flood and the difficulty that you will face moving forward, but the most important thing to remember is that when you know how to survive, you – and your loved ones – have a better likelihood of ensuring personal safety and doing just that. 

For more information on how to ensure that your home has access to clean, safe drinking water, consider using the Water Freedom System – which also comes with helpful information about surviving – and thriving through other types of disasters, too.

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