Flood Preparation: 5 Essential Tools to Survive
Whether you have lived for some time in an area prone to flooding or you are new to flood preparation, there is always something new to learn about how to stay safe in a flood. In fact, the city of Houston, Texas, has a longstanding history of flooding, and yet several people died and thousands of homes and cars were flooded in the recent Memorial Day weekend floods.
Knowing Your Actual Risk
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), flash flooding is the leading cause of weather related mortalities in the United States today. More than 200 deaths annually can be directly linked to flooding, both flash floods and flood waters that build more slowly (such as flooding that comes from an over-full bayou or river, or flooding that overflows a levee or dam such as what occurred in New Orleans). Also, depending on where you live, an estimated 50 to 75 percent of those deaths are related to people staying in vehicles during flood conditions.
Tool #1: Do not enter areas of high water.
In Houston, Mayor Annise Parker posted emergency messages on the highways that stated, “If you see high water, turn around – don’t drown.” This means do not try to drive through, walk through, swim through, boat through, or otherwise enter high water areas. (Tom adds: Even if you don’t drown, there is a good chance you could be washed away and valuable resources will be used and lives endangered in an attempt to rescue you because of your actions.)
Tool #2: Keep emergency supplies on hand in a waterproof bag.
The type of things you may need in a flood situation include candles, matches, antiseptic, bottled water, a first aid kit, gloves, face masks, mosquito spray and netting, tape, safety pins, benadryl, basic toiletries, I.D.s and a source of cash, and a list of emergency numbers.
Tool #3: Plan for emergency food supplies.
In the event it takes rescue teams some time to reach you, you will absolutely need to have clean water and emergency food rations on hand. Freeze dried foods, energy bars, and other emergency rations can play a key part in waiting out the worst of a flood. Be aware that a flood may only last a few minutes or hours, but it can still claim everything you own, so you will need to have emergency food and water to survive!
Tool #4: Have an emergency plan in place for kids and the elderly….and everyone.
Whether you live with or apart from your loved ones, it is very wise to put some kind of plan in place to keep in touch during flood situations, and especially to know who is taking charge of the safety of kids and elderly relatives.
Decide where each of you will go, and where and when you will meet up, in advance, then do your best to review the plan at least once annually to be sure your plans are still up to date and take into account everyone in your family who may need extra assistance.
Tip #5: Do your best to secure your home and belongings as quickly as possible… and get OUT of your vehicle right away!
If you make it a habit to watch the weather reports and receive emergency weather alerts as soon as they break, you will have more time to prepare your home, move your car or boat, secure your belongings in a high, dry place, and move yourself and your loved ones to safety before the flood waters hit. Sometimes – as with the estimated 19 people who died in the recent flooding across Texas and Oklahoma – having even a few minutes of advance warning can make all the difference! Finally, knowing when to walk away from your vehicle can be key to surviving a flood.
When you make a regular habit of monitoring weather alerts and you follow these five tips to pre-plan for facing flood conditions in your area, your payoff may be saving your life and the lives of your loved ones.
This article was a guest contribution from Lee Flynn. Lee is a freelance writer and an expert in emergency food preparedness and food storage.