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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Flooding season is upon us - are you ready?

Original Article

Flooding season is upon us - are you ready?
From:  MooMama

photo credit - Library of Congress

As the snow begins to melt and the spring rains fall our creeks and rivers begin to rise. It's prudent, therefore to refresh our knowledge regarding flooding preparedness and associated safety precautions.

Check to see if your property is eligible for flood insurance and if it is, look into buying some.

Make sure your family has a 72-hour kit ready. These are also called Bug Out Bags (BOB). They typically contain clothing, food, water, personal hygiene items, first aid gear, and some comfort items like toys, games, and books. Imagine spending a long weekend in a shelter and think of what you'd wish you had with you.

Be aware of the weather and conditions in your local area. It helps to tune your radio into NOAA channels if your area is especially prone to flooding.

Know what the different types of warnings mean.

- a flood watch means that conditions might contribute to flooding. Stay tuned to NOAA radio or local radio and television stations.

- a flash flood watch means that flash flooding is possible and you should be prepared to evacuate. Stay tuned to NOAA radio or local radio and television stations.

- a flood warning means that flooding is occurring or will occur soon. If you do get a request to evacuate you'll want to do so immediately.

- a flash flood warning means that a flash flood is occurring. You'll want to seek higher ground immediately - in some cases you'll need to evacuate by foot.

Know what you need to do to secure your home if an evacuation is warranted. If you have advance warning you can do things like bring in outdoor furniture or toys and move essential items to an upper floor of your residence. You'll also want to turn off utilities to your home at the main switches or valves. Disconnect electrical appliances.

Determine in advance what the safest evacuation route would be for your family. Have routes planned from your home and also your place of employment. You want to seek high safe ground free from the possibility of flooding as your evacuation point.

Develop and practice a family escape plan. Have your plan include a safe meeting place for your family to gather. Have a plan in place in case flooding occurs while the parents are at work or home and the children are at school.

Know where emergency shelters are located in your community.

Keep materials like sandbags, plastic sheeting, lumber, and plywood on hand to help provide some emergency protection for your home in case of flooding.

Some flood safety tips:

- do not walk through moving water. Even areas as shallow as six inches can be hazardous. If you must walk through water use a stick or other object to press the ground in front of you to determine if it's safe to continue through the area.

- do NOT drive through flooded areas. If you are stuck in floodwaters, evacuate the car and move to higher ground. Cars are often swept away in rapidly rising floodwaters and it is not advised to remain in vehicles during flooding. Water levels as low as six inches will reach the bottom of many cars and can easily cause drivers to lose control and can stall cars. Water levels of a foot can cause many vehicles to float. Moving water of two feet or more can wash away most cars and SUVs and passenger trucks.

- be cautious and aware of any washed-out roads, loose or downed electrical wires, and fallen objects. You may need to drive very defensively in flooding conditions.

Some links to more information about preparing for flooding:

NOAA's National Weather Service Flood Safety

Federal Alliance for Safe Homes Floods Overview Page

National Weather Service Flooding brochure

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