The occurrence of natural calamities such as hurricanes and tornadoes can drive fear into the hearts of homeowners and their households anywhere around the world. This fear is compounded as they see flood water levels rapidly rising in the vicinity and slowly creeping into their own homes. Such disasters can be devastating particularly if the household has not prepared itself from such an event nor have they made any disaster preparations for their own homes. On such cases, flood damage tends to be inevitable and could result from minor structural damage of a home to total disaster.
To prevent or at least minimize loss of properties, and even lives, early warning systems have been put up by various communities all throughout the country. This system is activated whenever there is an onset of heavy rains and possible flash floods. Although floods are not entirely caused by natural causes, most totally devastating occurrences were results of natural calamities that are beyond the control of people living in the community. What homeowners and households can do is to prepare their homes, and themselves, to the possibility of floods and the resultant flood damage.
In this regard, it is vital that homeowners and other occupants of a particular home are knowledgeable on preventive and preparation measures that they can take whenever there is an imminent possibility of floods. Some of the initial things that they should know and understand is to comprehend how flood works and the dangers associated with such floods, as well as preventative measures that they can perform in order to protect themselves and their homes from the possibility of flood damage.
The Types of Floods and What Causes It
In a more basic sense, floods can be categorized into Natural Occurring and Manmade, although many environmentalists would contest that some "naturally occurring" flash floods were results of man's negligence and abuse of Mother Nature like denuding forests and mountainsides.
Manmade floods are usually caused by damages or malfunction of equipments and facilities. A burst pipe from freezing during winter or a broken dam or levee due to a swollen river or stream are usual causes of manmade floods. Other possibilities are malfunctioning fire sprinkler systems in a home or building, or sewage and drainage backups due to clogged drains, pipes and sewerage systems. Such occurrences can be prevented by proper maintenance of these facilities as well as precautionary measures according to seasonal conditions. Examples include the winterization of pipes and the home before the cold season sets in, and the cleaning and de-clogging of pipes and drains before the advent of the rainy season.
Naturally occurring floods are a result of natural phenomena like storms, hurricanes or the melting of ice caps that causes rivers and streams to swell and overflow into the surrounding communities. In such cases, the soil or ground could only absorb certain levels of water that it will not be able to hold in additional water coming from heavy rainfall. The result would be a rapid increase in water level and eventually resulting in flash floods. These types of floods come without warning and can be very devastating particularly to homes and communities that were unprepared for this onset.
Some of the most devastating types of floods include the super soaker flash floods that can totally submerged whole areas in a very short span of time. Trees can be uprooted and whole houses displaced and carried away by the strong forces of the current brought about by the raging waters. These instances not only cause severe flood damage to homes and properties but can account to loss of lives as well.
The Dangers of Floods and Flood Damage
The strong current brought about by raging flood waters can be very dangerous as these can sweep people, cars, and even whole houses and buildings away for several miles. Floods are known to reach tremendous heights and can cover whole houses, buildings and communities.
The sudden formation of flash floods make them even more dangerous as they can come without warning and cause tremendous flood damage to homes and properties, and possibly loss of life as well. This is why federal and local agencies and trying all they can to keep track of these sudden formations and give ample flood warnings to the community and its inhabitants.
Floods, particularly the stagnant water that results after the rains or the causes of the flood have stopped; can be breeding grounds for diseases and harmful pathogens that will put homeowners and their household at serious health risks. Flood damage is also associated with the proliferation of molds that are known and proven to be causes of certain illnesses and diseases. On top of that, floods can bring along sewage, toxic substances and other contaminated materials that can be very harmful to humans and animals.
Another negative side effect of the occurrence of floods and flood damage is the heavy emotional strain that it can give to homeowners as well as the other inhabitants of the home. The event of a flood can be a very stressful and tiring experience that can drain people from their physical as well as from their emotional strength. People can lose sleep during storms for fear of the possible dangers to their person and their properties. Fatigue and emotional stress can make people easily overwhelmed by the prospect of flood damage that it would be wise to get some sleep and rest for some time after the event before dealing with the potential flood damage rendered to their homes.
How to Prepare for Possible Flood Damage
The following are some things that homeowners and their household can do in preparation for the possibility of floods regardless of the cause.
* Basements are very prone to flood damage and may cause severe structural damage that will put the integrity of the home in question. It would be wise to have your basement properly insulated and waterproofed using available methods particularly the walls and flooring, which are very prone to seepages and flood entry.
* Ensure that sump pumps in basements are working properly to prevent fast accumulation of flood water in the home.
* Check for cracks and fissures in the basement walls, as well as other parts of the house and seal them up with proper waterproofing materials.
* Avoid placing or storing valuable items and materials in the basement, particularly documents, certificates and other paper or cardboard-based materials. These are easily prone to water damage as well as attacks from mold.
* If flood is imminent or if there is a storm warning from local authorities, it would be wise to remove everything off from the floor and into higher locations. Valuable items should be placed in air-tight or waterproof containers to prevent moisture absorption.
* Flashlights are very helpful and important things to use during floods. If heavy rains have caused flood levels to rise and have penetrated your homes, the first thing to do is to turn off electrical power and use flashlights to assess damage and to see your way around. Have portable radios with sufficient battery supplies handy to monitor news and announcements from authorities.
* Keep an ample supply of food and bottled water and safe keep in waterproof or airtight containers for emergency use. It would be best to choose food that does not require any additional preparation or cooking, and foods that require no refrigeration. Bottled water is preferred but should you need additional water, it is a must to boil it for more than ten minutes before drinking or using.
* Maintain an ample supply of fresh water in sealed containers and jugs. If you lack such containers, clean your sinks and bathtubs then disinfect using strong bleaches. Fill these with fresh water for later use.
* It would be wise to maintain an emergency supply of building materials within easy access. These include lumber, plywood, nails, sandbags and plastic sheets.
* If your area has been identified as a danger zone, do not hesitate and evacuate your place together with your household and valuable items that you can immediately bring along with you. Go to places designated by the authorities of locations that are on higher ground. Teach and practice with your household, particularly children and the elderly, an evacuation route and plan should there be an immediate need to evacuate.
* If you are caught outside during a flash flood, move to a higher ground immediately and avoid areas that are already submerged in water. Move away from storm drains and stay clear of rivers and streams.
* When inside a building during a flash flood, immediately move to the highest location in the building and take with you emergency supplies like food, flashlights, blankets and bottled water.
* For homeowners living in areas that are prone to flooding, it would be wise to maintain or acquire a flood insurance policy. Coverage can range from full replacement to damage repairs. This type of insurance is separate from the standard home insurance and would entail a separate cost. In some identified area, flood insurance is mandatory.
What to Do After the Flood
The activities that should be done after the flood is as much important as the things people should do before the occurrence. The dangers of floodwaters does not end with the water receding or with the storm passing. Certain considerations have to be made.
The most important thing to remember is that homeowners should stay clear from floodwaters as much as possible. Aside from the health hazards that floodwaters can bring, such as contaminated materials and sewage, there may be other structural dangers and hazards present that can endanger the lives of homeowners and their households.
Do not drink water from tap resources until the local authorities have advised and cleared the water supply as safe to drink. Foods that were exposed to floodwaters directly or indirectly should be discarded unless these are kept in water-tight containers or in sealed cans and jars. Any dents or punctures in the cans are indicative of possible contamination so it would be wise to just discard them.
Floods have caused the lost of thousands of people as well as the lost of billions of dollars in flood damage. Preparing the home, and the inhabitants therein, is an essential undertaking that homeowners should perform should they face the imminent possibility of floods and flood damage.