Flooding: Prepare, Respond, Recover

NBC10 Philadelphia

How to handle a flood from beginning to end, according to the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety.

What to do ahead of time:

  • Hire a licensed electrician to raise electric components (switches, sockets, circuit breakers and wiring) at least 12 inches above the expected flood levels for your area.
  • Make sure your yard’s grading (slope) directs water away from the building.
  • Have the installation of your furnace, water heater and other permanently equipment modified so that they are elevated above the expected flood levels for your area.
  • Anchor fuel tanks. An unanchored tank can be torn free by floodwaters, and the broken supply line can cause contamination or, if outdoors, can be swept downstream and damage other property.
  • If you have a basement, hire a licensed plumber to install an interior or exterior backflow valve, to help prevent sewage from backing up into your basement from a flooded sewer system. Check with your building department for permit requirements. Note: this won’t help if flood waters pour into your basement or house, but could help in instances where flooding affects the sewage system, but not your house.
  • Where you can expect flooding

What to do when flooding is imminent:

  • Clear drains, gutters and downspouts of debris.
  • Move furniture and electronics off the floor, particularly in basements and first floor levels.
  • Roll up area rugs, where possible, and store these on higher floors or elevations. This will reduce the chances of rugs getting wet and growing mold.
  • Prepare an evacuation kit with important papers, insurance documents, medications and other things you may need if you are forced to be away from your home or business for several days.
  • Inspect sump pumps and drains to ensure proper operation. If a sump pump has a battery backup, make sure the batteries are fresh or replace the batteries.
  • Shut off electrical service at the main breaker if the electrical system and outlets will be under water.
  • Place all appliances, including stove, washer and dryer on masonry blocks or concrete at least 12 inches above the projected flood elevation.
  • Severe Weather Central

What to do after flooding:

  • As soon as it is safe to do so, disconnect all electronics/electrical equipment and move it to a dry location.
  • Remove as much standing water as possible from inside the building.
  • Remove water-damaged materials immediately.
  • Ventilate with fans or use dehumidifiers to dry out the house.
  • Acting quickly can increase the chance of salvaging usable materials, reduce the amount of rust and mold that might develop, and limit the likelihood of structural problems.

Source: Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety

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