How to prepare and survive a flood

As a rule, householder’s insurance doesn’t protect you from losses due to floods. However, if your community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), you should be eligible for special flood insurance. Ask your agent, or dial 800-638-6620.

If you live in a flood-prone area, consider elevating your house or making construction adjustments to keep flood waters out. These measures are costly, however, and they should be planned only by a qualified engineer.

To prepare for the possibility of flood waters entering, move appliances and power tools to a higher floor; for equipment that can’t be moved, such as a furnace, find out how to build a floodwall around it. Put a control panel where you can turn off electricity without going into water.

Make a list of personal property, including furnishings, valuables, and clothing. Photographs of your home, inside and out, are helpful for settling insurance claims and proving uninsured, tax-deductible losses. Store insurance policies and property lists in a waterproof or safe-deposit box.

Keep on hand: a portable radio, emergency cooking equipment, nonperishable foods, jugs for water, flashlights, sandbags (if you know how to use them), and plywood and plastic sheeting for plugging holes and sealing doors. If a flood threatens, keep your fuel tank filled for evacuation.

When a flood warning comes
Get your family to a safe area. Stock the car with food, containers of water, a first-aid kit, blankets, flashlights, dry clothing, and needed medication.

Caution: Do not drive across a flooded road. If the car stalls, abandon it.

If you’re caught in the house by suddenly rising waters, move to the highest floor, taking along warm clothing, a flashlight, and a portable radio. Fill sinks and jugs with water (rinse them first with household bleach). Wait for help; don’t try to swim to safety.