What to do When the April Showers Don’t Stop!

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With spring not far around the corner, it’s time to start prepping for what snow turns into—water. You know the old saying, April showers bring May flowers and sometimes those showers don’t stop. If you’re one of the lucky ones, I’m sure you’ve experienced horrors like this; now it’s time to prep!

Not every disaster is world ending, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less devastating to those involved. Floods are a serious threat that can ruin lives; as we saw with the post-Hurricane Katrina flooding, floods can easily decimate entire cities.

Prepping doesn’t have to be reserved for End of the World as We Know It scenarios, but instead should be used to keep you, your family, and your belongings as safe as possible in any survival situation — floods included. By knowing your risk and planning accordingly, you can keep safe, survive a flood and live to fight another day.

If you live on flat land, or worse yet in a valley, you’re probably at some level of risk for a flood. Even if you think you’re not at risk, a flood in your area can still affect you by knocking out power, gas, and water service to your home. If you live on a hill but receive your water from a valley, chances are a flood would cut the supply of water off pretty quickly.

Just as GI Joe taught us, knowing is half the battle, and knowing when you’re at a real risk for a flood is important for staying ahead of the disaster. The terminology used by weather predictors is the best way for you to know when you’re at serious risk of being flooded.

A Flood Watch means flooding is possible but not expected. A Flash Flood Watch is like a standard flood watch. This means that flooding that happens in a matter of minutes is possible, but not truly expected. Flood Warnings mean flooding is either already happening in areas near you or is expected to happen very shortly. Flash Flood Warnings mean that flash flooding is currently happening in areas near you. If you’re on ground level in a flood-prone area, this is the time to get to higher ground immediately.

Pay attention to this terminology, not only for your area, but along any proposed escape routes you may have planned. Flooding can quickly cut off access by not only covering roads, but completely washing them out.

Just as with a fire, earthquake, or any other natural disaster, you need to have a plan for exiting your home safely, a location identified as a meeting place for your children and other family members, and a family member or friend designated as the central point of communication. Create a laminated list of important phone numbers and keep it handy, just in case your personal phones are wet and unusable. Review this emergency plan with your family a few times a year to make it second nature during an emergency.

Before an event happens, it’s important to learn about driving safely in rainy and flooded conditions. Even if you have multiple escapes routes, you may find yourself in a position where you have to drive through standing water. Education could be key in this. Beyond learning safe maneuvering practices, you should also know your vehicle’s clearance, so you can make a better estimation when you may be escaping from a flooded area.

Birth certificates, important documents, pictures, you know, those things you just can’t replace… they need to be kept safe from floods, as well as fires and other disasters. Pack them up somewhere where they can keep without being ruined. With everything digital these days, store all family’s pictures on SD memory cards, have one for each year. They are small so they easily fit in a safe, and you can even seal them in a food saver bag, just to keep them waterproof too. Whatever it is you want to save, make sure you have it safe in advance of any disaster, and it will be one less thing to worry about when a disaster strikes.

When a flood hits, it doesn’t always require you to evacuate your home, but sometimes it can leave you without power or a way to get to the grocery store with ease. In these cases, and in a multiple number of other scenarios, water filters are a key to survival. Especially when flooding waters can affect the local water supply, and even taint the tap water that comes into your home.

Floods normally take about six hours to occur! The cause of the flash flood could be that it was raining upstream of disaster in the previous hours. It might also be a dam or levee failure. Urbanization is partially to blame, too. Urban areas lose the ability to absorb water because cement can’t hold, so the roads can quickly become streams and rivers.

Before an event happens, it’s important to learn about driving safely in rainy and flooded conditions. Even if you have multiple escapes routes, you may find yourself in a position where you have to drive through standing water. Education could be key in this. Beyond learning safe maneuvering practices, you should also know your vehicle’s clearance, so you can make a better estimation when you may be escaping from a flooded area.

Know the evacuation routes before you need them and make sure more than one member of the family or group knows the routes. It is recommended that you travel the highway(s) to the evacuation routes as part of your preparedness long before disaster strikes.

Drive the routes during the day and at night to become familiar with the roads. Keep in mind that flooding and high winds can damage or remove roads signs and other navigational landmarks.

Floodwaters can sweep bridges and highways away once you are already on the roads thus trapping you. At this point, you would have to abandon your vehicle and seek higher ground on foot if you cannot drive safely to higher ground, which makes it an even more dangerous situation for you and your family.

Waiting too long to evacuate means you have to shelter in place. To survive you have to be above the level of water however, so you may have to move to the upper story or even on to the roof of your home.

“Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink.” The one thing that’s not in short supply during a flood is water, but it’s that water specifically that can really hurt your ability to drink.

As water levels rise, the chance that sewage and fresh water will mix is pretty high. The same goes for fresh water and chemicals. Once this happens, the available fresh water for drinking can quickly hit zero. As seen with Katrina, this need for clean water can go on for weeks, which is why having a 30-day supply of drinking water is critical for anyone in a flood-prone area.

By keeping fresh water on hand, you can protect against most diseases and impurities that the surrounding water supply might have. Remember, you can boil off most diseases in water, but if the chemical plant down the street flooded too, you won’t be able to boil that water enough to clean it. Just like every other survival situation, without fresh water, all your other plans are pretty useless.

The chances of everyone making it through a flood OK are infinitely increased when a good emergency plan is followed properly. Each family’s situation is unique, so create your own list of flood survival tips tailored to your family’s needs. Go over them together frequently so you, collectively, will be ready for any flooding situation.

If you are fortunate enough to live through this nightmare but your home or possessions aren’t, there are several considerations to consider when the water has receded and the cleanup must begin. Cleaning isn’t simple and it isn’t going to be fun, but it is very necessary.

Shovel out all mud and debris. Wash mud off of everything that was contaminated. The mud dredged up from river bottoms smells incredibly bad and could be full of toxins.
Clean and disinfect every surface. This is another good reason to have the ability to make your own bleach from Calcium Hypochlorite. This includes everything you would eat off of and all surfaces contaminated with the flood waters.
Take everything that is salvageable outside to dry as quickly as possible.
Wall boards that have become wet will need to be removed at least to the water level and any insulation will have to come out as well.
Carpet and rugs that were flooded are best thrown out. Some wooden floors can be salvaged if they are allowed to dry properly
Ensure you have clean water – Don’t drink any well water until it has been cleared
Electricity shouldn’t be used until it has been inspected.
Check your home’s foundation for cracks.

Lastly, security was an issue in both Katrina, Sandy, and we might see some of that from this latest disaster. Make sure you are prepared to defend yourself from the people who always seem to appear when there are people to be taken advantage of. The last thing you need after a disaster is to lose what little you had that survived to some criminal.

Take your time and really work on getting prepared! Check out the HH online shop to see all of the new survival supplies you’ll need to survive!