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      NSC HOME > Safety at Home > Emergency Preparedness > Floods      


Keep You and Your Family Safe Before, During and After a Flood

Floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States. Anywhere it rains, it can flood. Everyone is at risk. In fact, homeowners in high-risk flood areas have a 26% chance of experiencing a flood during the life of a 30-year mortgage.

Many circumstances can cause flooding:

  • Seasonal events such as spring thaws or ice jams
  • Hurricanes and tropical storms
  • After a wildfire

Before the Flood

To prepare for a flood, you should …

  • Build an emergency kit.
  • Make and practice a family emergency plan. Plan and practice flood evacuation routes from home, work and school that are on higher ground.
  • Get flood insurance.
    • Flood damage is not typically covered by homeowners insurance.
    • It is a good idea to get flood insurance even if your home is in a low-risk area. The lower the risk, the lower the insurance premium.
  • Elevate the furnace, water heater and electric panel in your home if you live in an area that has a high flood risk.

During the Flood

If a flood is likely in your area, you should …

  • Listen to the radio or television for information.
  • Be aware that flash flooding can occur. If there is any possibility of a flash flood, move immediately to higher ground. Do not wait for instructions to move.

If you must prepare to evacuate, you should …

  • Secure your home. If you have time, bring in outdoor furniture. Move essential items to an upper floor.
  • Turn off utilities at the main switches or valves if instructed to do so. Disconnect electrical appliances. Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.

If you have to leave your home, you should …

  • Stay away from floodwaters. If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, turn around and go another way. Six inches of moving water can sweep you off your feet. If you have to walk in water, walk where the water is not moving.
  • Do not drive into flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely. Most vehicles can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.

After the Flood

Returning to your home

  • Return home only when authorities indicate it is safe.
  • Emergency workers will be assisting people in flooded areas. You can help them by staying off the roads and out of the way.
  • Play it safe. Additional flooding or flash floods can occur. Listen for local warnings and information. If your car stalls in rapidly rising waters, get out immediately and climb to higher ground.
  • Stay out of any building if it is surrounded by floodwaters. Use extreme caution when entering buildings; there may be hidden damage, particularly in foundations.
  • Keep children and pets away from hazardous sites and floodwater.

Cleaning up and repairing your home

  • Before entering your home, look outside for loose power lines, damaged gas lines, foundation cracks or other damage.
  • Parts of your home may be collapsed or damaged. Approach entrances carefully. See of porch roofs and overhangs have all their supports.
  • If you smell natural or propane gas or hear a hissing noise, leave immediately and call the fire department.
  • Turn off the electricity at the main breaker or fuse box, even if the power is off in your community. That way, you can decide when your home is dry enough to turn it back on.
  • During cleanup, wear protective clothing, including rubber gloves and rubber boots. Dry or discard wet items within 24-28 hours to avoid mold.
  • If using portable generators or power washers, follow precautions to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • If you hire cleanup or repair contractors, check references and be sure they are qualified to do the job. Be wary of people who drive through neighborhoods offering help in cleaning up or repairing your home.
  • Make sure your food and water are safe. Listen for news reports to learn whether the community’s water supply is safe to drink and discard items that have come in contact with floodwater.

Know the Difference

Flood Watch: Flooding is possible in your area.

Flood Warning: Flooding is already occurring or will occur soon in your area. If advised to evacuate, do so immediately.

Flash Flood Watch: Flash flooding is possible in your area. Be prepared to move to higher ground.

Flash Flood Warning: Flash flooding is already occurring or will occur soon in your area. Seek higher ground on foot immediately.

Driving in a Flood

Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars causing loss of control and possible stalling.

One foot of water will float many vehicles.

Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles including SUVs and pick-up trucks.

Do not attempt to drive through a flooded road. The depth of water is not always obvious. The road bed may be washed out under the water and you could be stranded or trapped.

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