Do You Know What to Do if Your Home Floods?
Unless you live in a floodplain, you likely haven’t given much thought to the possibility of your home flooding — but you should. Flooding can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage to your home and put your family’s health and safety at risk. Here’s how you can prepare your home in case of a flooding disaster.
There are a few reasons your home might flood. The most dangerous floods are those caused by natural disasters including hurricanes and flash floods. However, burst pipes, broken water heaters, clogged drain lines, malfunctioning dishwashers and washing machines and improper drainage around your home’s foundation can all cause interior flooding.
It doesn’t take a hurricane-level flood to cause serious damage to your home. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, just one inch of water can cause $27,000 in damage to a typical 2,500-square-foot home. The bigger your home and the more valuable your possessions, the more you have to lose.
Despite the high cost of flooding damage — and the fact that flooding is the most common natural disaster in the United States — only 12 percent of U.S. homeowners carry flood insurance. In a low-risk state like Idaho, flood insurance might seem like an unnecessary expense. However, it’s important for homeowners to realize that most insurance policies don’t cover damage from flooding.
Protecting Against Floods
Even if you decide against purchasing flood insurance, it’s important to take measures that protect your home from flooding damage.
Ensure your home isn’t a threat to itself by maintaining your water heater, washing machine and dishwasher, ensuring your landscape is properly graded to direct water away from the home, and extending downspouts so they drain away from your foundation. Schedule regular gutter cleanings and keep storm drains near your home free of debris.
Protect the contents of your home by storing belongings in watertight bins and placing the bins on shelving. Avoid storing valuables and important documents on the lowest floor.
If you’re remodeling your home, certain updates can mitigate flood damage. Raise electrical components like outlets least a foot above the floor, move HVAC equipment to upper floors or elevate it off the ground, and use flood-resistant materials in areas exposed to flood damage. Homeowners can refer to eXtension for a list of moisture-resistant building materials.
Preparing for Emergencies
Every household should have a plan in the event of an emergency. In a major flood, your home’s attic or highest story will become your home base. Prepare your disaster storage by stashing a supply of nonperishable food and potable water in your attic, along with other emergency supplies including flashlights, batteries, a first aid kit and life jackets. If you have pets, include pet food and kennels so you can evacuate with your animals.
If a flood is caused by plumbing or other internal sources, you won’t need to camp out in the attic. Instead, establish an evacuation point in the neighborhood where your family can meet up if your home floods. This could be a neighbor’s house, a park, or just a designated street corner.
Responding to a Flood
After a flood, your home will be in poor shape. Before you can start assessing the damage, you need to remove the water. It’s important to dry out your home as soon as possible; trapped moisture could threaten your home’s structural integrity and cause a serious mold problem. Because flood water can be highly unsanitary, especially when sewage is involved, it’s important to hire professionals to remove the water. In addition to drying out your home, professionals can determine the extent of water damage and help remediate mold before it harms your family’s health.
When you think of a disaster striking your home, you might imagine a tree falling on the roof, a tornado ripping through the neighborhood, or a kitchen fire filling the house with smoke. Rarely do homeowners consider flooding, especially when they live outside of high-risk flood zones. But no matter where you live, flooding could threaten your home. By having an emergency preparedness plan and taking precautions against flooding damage, you can protect your home, family and wallet from floods.