Camping & Survival

Survival Planning 101: Preparing for a Flood

While Superstorm Sandy was pounding the East Coast, nearly 3,000 miles away in the Pacific Northwest, forecasters were warning local residents of the potential of flash flooding. The fact is a flood can strike anywhere and at anytime.

Floods are one of the most costly of all natural disasters. In the last 10 years, flooding cost the U.S. more than $2.9 billion dollars in damage. Of all presidential-declared U.S. natural disasters, 90% involved flooding.

Flooding can and has happened in all 50 states. Although you may live in a low-risk area, emergency preparedness officials want you to remember this, if it rains where you live, even a minimal amount each year, than it has the potential to flood. Flooding can happen in a matter of minutes as is the case with flash flooding. Or you may have several days of advance warning of a threat from a flood, such as the type caused by spring thaws.

Plan Ahead

Experts suggest you prepare two separate flood emergency plans. A plan for staying in your home and a plan in case you must leave your home. Determine how much water your family and home can handle before you have to evacuate.

If you stay, you need enough water, food and personal items for a minimum of five days. Often when flooding occurs your source for safe drinking water, even municipal water can be become contaminated. Buy space-saving larger sizes of drinking water in gallon-size or larger containers, but not too large you can not take it with you if you do have to leave. Food needs to be in waterproof packaging such as canned goods and do not forget the can opener. You will also need a supply of any prescription medications needed. Additionally you will want to keep a supply of personal hygiene products such as baby wipes and toilet paper at the ready. Do not forget flashlights, extra batteries, waterproof matches, garbage bags and a battery-powered weather radio. It is a good idea to keep some cash in your kit in case of a power outage prevents ATMs from working. Also, pack a dry change of clothes and outerwear for each person in the home. Zip plastic storage bags and plastic containers are a must to store everything you do not want wet or damp. Keep as many items as you can in a watertight container and keep it as high in your home as possible. In other words, do not store your flood kit in the garage.

If You Must Go

Plan ahead and know where your closest emergency shelters such as Red Cross set up during a flood. Shelters will have food, water and other necessities available. Only if it is safe and you have time, you can bring a few things from home such as important papers, a change of clothes and personal items. It is wise to keep all important papers such as insurance policies in a zip bag stored in a small document storage box with a handles making it quick and easy to grab on the run.

Never drive or walk through moving water. It only takes about 4 inches of moving water to carry a vehicle away. During a flood, the ground can become unstable and give way beneath you. What may look like a harmless trickle of water across a roadway can quickly become a death trap if the road has washed away below the surface. Most flood related deaths are associated with vehicles.

Flooding can scatter families so be sure and let every member of your household and your extended family knows about your emergency flood plans. Plus pick a designated meeting spot in case you are separated during a flood.

A flood of any size can be a traumatic event but there is no reason to fear. Simply plan ahead, take time to prepare, listen to directions from local authorities and use your head.

Although we can not prevent floods, we can prepare for them. There is no better time than now to start thinking about what you should to do to keep you and your family safe in the event of a flood.

Have you been through a flood? What did you do to prepare ahead? Were you caught off-guard? Tell us in the comment section.

Lisa Metheny is a published award-winning outdoor writer, photographer, speaker and outdoor skills instructor. Lisa holds several instructor certifications and conducts a number of women-focused outdoor seminars on topics like archery and hunting throughout the year. She regularly teaches hunters education and archery classes and has become an advocate for promoting traditional outdoor recreation to families across the United States. Lisa is also an avid and accomplished hunter with many big game species to her credit. She is a member of POMA and former Board of Directors member as well as a member of the NRA, RMEF, MDF and DU.

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Comments (6)

  1. You know, we joke about it, I live on the hill, overlooking Cowtown to the south, and Denton to the north, but some folks, especially ones who’ve just moved here, may not even be aware of what could happen to them, until it does. Your husband was thinking ahead, even if it was a T post. Did he throw out the anchor?
    Look at what happened down in Houston the last day or so. That’s got to be some nasty water, down there. Also, you never heard of Fargo, N.D. flooding, until now. There certainly are merits to your story.
    If having too much water’s a problem anywhere right now, wait ’til this Summer, with all the water rationing. We never had this problem in the past, and yet all we hear is how the Metroplex is telling businesses out of state to “come on down,” and set up shop here, bringing more people to this area. I’ve benn saying for several years now, that we don’t have the resources for that, yet no one seems to realize it. Don’t give him too hard a time about the boats, but having your adress and phone number stenciled somewhere on each boat might bein order, like a dog collar.

    8 +8 = sixteen

  2. Lisa, are you sure about your figures initially in the story? 2.9 million over 10 years doesn’t sound right. One thing people should prepare for, is that once you leave your place, you won’t be allowed back. Therefore, I keep several hundred feet of bow line staked to the house, with not one, but two coffee cans for baling in the boat. If i have to leave, it’ll be straight up! 7 – three = 4

    1. Typo fixed, Bill. My property flooded back in 2007. We had 3 sailboats lined up and I noticed (after the fact) my husband had tied them off to the t-posts holding out pasture fencing so they wouldn’t float off. Pretty funny. Thanks for getting today’s math question right!

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