Flood Safety

According to FEMA, “Floods are America’s number one natural disaster and can happen anytime, anywhere.” Floods are consistently the most common, costly and deadly natural disaster Americans face each year. In fact 90% of all natural disasters in the U.S. involve flooding.


Before A Flood


Educate Yourself

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 agent’s 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 visitwww.knowyourstuff.org.
  • 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.

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 visitReady.gov.


During A Flood

Here’s 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 floodwaters, wash your hands with soap and disinfected water.

After A Flood

  • 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.



12 Feet Above Flood Stage: Like It Never Even Happened

Over 13 inches of rain in the Cumberland River region, winds blasting through downtown Nashville, waters 12 feet above flood stage… this is the story of the Tennessee/Kentucky/Mississippi floods.

Sandy Hayden

Myth-busting: Flash Flooding

So you’re getting cozy with this fall-like weather and thoughts of hurricanes are the farthest from your mind. Rain? Blistering heat? What’s that? I know, I’ve been there. This is what we call weather denial: “the weather is absolutely perfect and it’s never going to change.” Many of you are delightfully proclaiming that it’s time for a pumpkin spice latte (granted, it’s always time for a pumpkin spice latte) and a good scarf. Well, on the bright side, autumn is not too far away. But because this is humid subtropical Columbia, South Carolina, we have some heat and rain to get through (yes, this cool spell will end, I’m afraid) before the leaves truly fall.

Maybe it’s that weather denial hitting strong, but this summer has seemed one of epic proportions for rain and storms. As we’re in the thralls of hurricane season, there’s plenty more where that came from. It’s time to get the facts straight. We’ve touched on lightning myths before, so next up is flash flooding.

Myth: Large cars and sports utility vehicles should be able to navigate in deeper flood waters.

Truth: Just two feet of swiftly moving flash flood water is enough to float most vehicles — even larger cars and trucks. My condolences to all my truck-driving, mud-sloshing Southern boys.

Myth: Flash floods occur only along rivers and streams.

Truth: Flash floods can occur nearly anywhere — even in urban areas.

Myth: Homeowners insurance policies cover flood damage.

Truth: The vast majority of these policies do not cover flood damage, so check your coverage!

*Photo credit: Yauheni Attsetski

Sandy Hayden