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Be prepared for flooding

Published: Wednesday, March 5, 2014 10:59 a.m. CDT

Flooding from ice jams and melting snow have affected some areas in the state. Eighteen to 24 inches of moving water can wash an SUV off of the road. In fact, according to the National Weather Service, more than half of all flood-related deaths are people driving through flooded roads. The nonprofit Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) reminds residents to “Turn Around, Don’t Drown!” and offers the following safety tips to protect your home from costly flood damage.  

Before the flood

All it takes is a few inches of water to cause major damage to your home and its contents.

Clear yard of any debris, plant material or items (garden décor, foliage or garbage cans) that can block water flow and storm drains.

If time permits, secure and/or elevate outdoor appliances, AC units or storage tanks.Analyze water flow through your yard and consider how water moves during a typical thunderstorm. Inspect critical areas (storm drains, culverts, berms, gutters and downspouts) to identify potential blockage to proper flow of water away from your home.Place important papers (birth/marriage certificates, passports, bank and insurance information) in a watertight container and keep them close. Take the container with you if evacuating or place in a high and dry location if sheltering in place.

Take photographs or videos to create an inventory of your personal possessions and keep the camera card handy in case of evacuation. Don’t forget to open closets and drawers to document all of your belongings as they will become part of any potential insurance claim.

Identify and move electronics and other expensive items (computers, televisions, phone systems, area rugs, expensive furniture) on lower levels of the home and elevate if possible to keep them dry.

During the flood

Get to higher ground. Stay away from flood-prone areas, including dips, low spots, valleys, ditches, washes, etc.

Avoid flooded areas or those with rapid water flow. Do not attempt to cross a flowing stream. It takes only 6 inches of fast flowing water to sweep you off your feet.Don’t allow children to play near high water, storm drains or ditches. Hidden dangers could lie beneath the water.

Flooded roads could have significant damage hidden by floodwaters. Never drive through floodwaters or on flooded roads. Water only 1 foot deep can float most automobiles.

Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to see flooded roads.

After the flood

Take photographs of damage throughout the building and around the property. Assess stability of plaster and drywall. Bulging or swelling ceilings indicate damage. Press upward on drywall ceilings. If nail heads appear, drywall will need to be re-nailed but can be saved.

Check foundation for any loose or missing blocks, bricks, stones or mortar.

Empty basement water at a rate of about one-third per day to avoid structural damage to foundation by rapid pressure change.

Clean and disinfect heating, air conditioning and ventilation ducts before use to avoid spread of airborne germs and mold spores. Use fans and sunlight to dry out interior spaces. Remove all wet carpets, curtains and fabrics. Allow to air dry completely.

For more home and family safety tips visit www.protect-your-home.org.

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