After getting flood insurance, there are several things you can do to minimize losses in your home and ensure your family's safety.
1. Safeguard your possessions.
Create a personal flood file containing information about all your possessions and keep it in a secure place, such as a safe deposit box or waterproof container. This file should have:
- A copy of your insurance policies with your agents contact information.
- A household inventory: For insurance purposes, be sure to keep a written and visual (i.e., videotaped or photographed) record of all major household items and valuables, even those stored in basements, attics or garages. Create files that include serial numbers and store receipts for major appliances and electronics. Have jewelry and artwork appraised. These documents are critically important when filing insurance claims. For more information visit the Know Your Stuff website.
- Copies of all other critical documents, including finance records or receipts of major purchases.
2. Prepare your house.
- First make sure your sump pump is working and then install a battery-operated backup, in case of a power failure. Installing a water alarm will also let you know if water is accumulating in your basement.
- Clear debris from gutters and downspouts.
- Anchor any fuel tanks.
- Raise your electrical components (switches, sockets, circuit breakers, and wiring) at least 12 inches above your home's projected flood elevation.
- Place the furnace, water heater, washer, and dryer on cement blocks at least 12 inches above the projected flood elevation.
- Move furniture, valuables, and important documents to a safe place.
- FEMA brochure "Protect Your Home from Flooding, Low Cost Projects You Can Do Yourself"
3. Develop a family emergency plan.
- Create a safety kit with drinking water, canned food, first aid, blankets, a radio, and a flashlight.
- Post emergency telephone numbers by the phone and teach your children how to dial 911.
- Plan and practice a flood evacuation route with your family. Know safe routes from home, work, and school that are on higher ground.
- Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to be your emergency family contact.
- Have a plan to protect your pets.
For more information on emergency preparation, talk to your insurance agent or visit Ready.gov.
Here is what you can do to stay safe during a flood:
- If flooding occurs, go to higher ground and avoid areas subject to flooding.
- Do not attempt to walk across flowing streams or drive through flooded roadways.
- If water rises in your home before you evacuate, go to the top floor, attic, or roof.
- Listen to a battery-operated radio for the latest storm information.
- Turn off all utilities at the main power switch and close the main gas valve if advised to do so.
- If you've come in contact with flood waters, wash your hands with soap and disinfected water.
As soon as flood water levels have dropped, it's time to start the recovery process. Here's what you can do to begin restoring your home.
- If your home has suffered damage, call your insurance agent to file a claim.
- Check for structural damage before re-entering your home to avoid being trapped in a building collapse.
- Take photos of any floodwater in your home and save any damaged personal property.
- Make a list of damaged or lost items and include their purchase date and value with receipts, and place with the inventory you took prior to the flood. Some damaged items may require disposal, so keep photographs of these items.
- Keep power off until an electrician has inspected your system for safety.
- Boil water for drinking and food preparation until authorities tell you that your water supply is safe.
- Prevent mold by removing wet contents immediately.
- Wear gloves and boots to clean and disinfect. Wet items should be cleaned with a pine-oil cleanser and bleach, completely dried, and monitored for several days for any fungal growth and odors.