Not every disaster is world ending, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less devastating to those involved. Floods are a serious threat that can ruin lives; as we saw with the post-Hurricane Katrina flooding, floods can easily decimate entire cities.
Prepping doesn’t have to be reserved for End of the World as we Know it scenarios, but instead should be used to keep you, your family, and your belongings as safe as possible in any survival situation — floods included. By knowing your risk and planning accordingly, you can keep safe and survive a flood and live to fight another day.
If you live on flat land, or worse yet, in a valley, you’re probably at some level of risk for a flood. Even if you think you’re not at risk, a flood in your area can still affect you by knocking out power, gas, and water service to your home. If you live on a hill but receive your water from a valley, chances are a flood would cut the supply of water off pretty quickly.
The same goes for power and other utilities, too. Calculating your flood risk starts with your home’s chance for flooding but should also include your surrounding area as well. Check out the Flood Risk evaluation tool over at FloodSmart.gov to get a better idea of what might be in store for you.
Just as GI Joe taught us, knowing is half the battle, and knowing when you’re at a real risk for flood is important for staying ahead of the disaster. The terminology used by weather predictors is the best way for you to know when you’re at serious risk of being flooded.
Remember, pay attention to this terminology, not only for your area, but along any proposed escape routes you may have planned. Flooding can quickly cut off access by not only covering roads, but completely washing them out.
By staying alert to the flood status in your area, as well as your specific risk of flooding, you should be able to keep a mental pros and cons list of staying put or bugging out. None of us like to leave our house and possessions, but a flood that’s strong enough can remove a house from its foundation and make the surrounding area toxic with washed-up waste and chemicals.
Before things get bad, give yourself a fight or flight checkpoint. Once that checkpoint is reached, it’s time to leave. Have your bug-out bag ready along with as much water as you can carry. Bring along important paperwork, money, and anything else you can safely carry and must be kept dry. Have a bug-out location that’s on higher ground selected, and make sure you’re familiar with at least two ways to get there. Knowing the flood risk of those two paths can be a big help, too.
Speaking of things you want to keep dry, now’s probably a good time to waterproof anything you want to stay dry in a flood. This means insurance paperwork, deeds, birth certificates, cash — anything that wouldn’t do well with a good dunk.
Simply placing these documents in airtight freezer bags is enough to keep them safe. Remember, a simple ruptured pipe could destroy all your necessary paperwork and really wreck a great prep. It doesn’t hurt to keep your bug-out bags and other supplies off the floor and put them in plastic containers, too.
“Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink.” The one thing that’s not in short supply during a flood is water, but it’s that water specifically that can really hurt your ability to drink.
As water levels rise, the chance that sewage and fresh water will mix is pretty high. The same goes for fresh water and chemicals. Once this happens, the available fresh water for drinking can quickly hit zero. As seen with Katrina, this need for clean water can go on for weeks, which is why having a 30-day supply of drinking water is critical for anyone in a flood-prone area.
By keeping fresh water on hand, you can protect against most diseases and impurities that the surrounding water supply might have. Remember, you can boil off most diseases in water, but if the chemical plant down the street flooded too, you won’t be able to boil that water enough to clean it. Just like every other survival situation, without fresh water, all your other plans are pretty useless.
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