A flooded street with undamaged houses, as their owners successfully prepared for the flood.

Minimize the Impact of Flooding

Updated January 3, 2019 . AmFam Team

When you hear news of potential flooding in your area, it’s normal to feel anxious. Take our tips into consideration, though, and you’ll make it through this hectic time safe and sound with as little damage to your home as possible.

No matter how minor the damage, flooding brings anxiety to thousands of households every year. With the right preparation, though, you can minimize the effects of a flood, keep your family safe and save money all at the same time. Ready to get started?

Have an Emergency Plan in Place

Long before flooding becomes a possibility, put together an emergency plan to get your family away from danger and into a safe space. Make sure your strategy includes all of these things:

Know where to go. Getting out of flooded or soon-to-be flooded areas is key to your family’s safety. Whether you’ve got a pre-arranged agreement with a friend or family member, or you’ve got a list of hotels where you’ll try to book rooms, you’ll save yourself some serious stress if you put together some options beforehand.

If you live in an area that floods fairly regularly, look into renting a storage unit in a safe and elevated location to store your valuables when flooding is predicted.

Know where to meet. Flooding isn’t always predictable. If it strikes when your family members are at work, school or anywhere but home, have a safe location to meet planned beforehand.

Have an emergency kit ready to go. No matter if flooding is minutes or days away, having an emergency kit stocked with the following items will help you make sure you’re not forgetting anything important when you move to higher ground. Have these items stored and ready to go:

  • Gallon bottles of water
  • Non-perishable foods
  • Weather-appropriate clothing
  • Phone chargers
  • Toothbrushes and toothpaste
  • Blankets and pillows
  • Medications
  • First-aid kit
  • Flashlights

While you might be able to find everything you need once you get to safety, having these items handy should the unexpected happen can help keep you free from harm.

Have an emergency kit ready for your pets, too. Pets are a major part of your family. Have a kit ready with the following items for your furry friends:

  • Food
  • Water
  • Medications
  • Identification
  • Veterinarian records
  • Leashes or carriers
  • Comfort items like toys, blankets or shirts that smell like you

Keep an inventory. Consider making an inventory of your home’s valuables with our  to help the insurance claim process go smoother, if it should arise. Take photos, attach receipts, describe the item in detail so you have a good idea of what you have in the event of the unexpected.

Have copies of important documents. Things like insurance documents, the deed to your home, drivers licenses, social security cards and other items that could be costly to replace should be stored in a waterproof container and taken with you, if possible.

Want to make hanging onto those important documents even easier? Scan them and put the electronic versions on a flash drive in a waterproof, safe location.

Prevent Your Home from Flooding

Flooding doesn’t always stem from catastrophic weather events. Oftentimes, it’s a burst pipe, malfunctioned sump pump or other house-related issue that causes water to fill the floors of your home. Here’s how you can do your part to prevent flooding in your home:

Clear your downspouts and gutters. A gutter or downspout full of leaves and debris can’t properly dispose of water after it rains. That could lead to water pooling near your foundation and seeping into your home. Keep an eye on both and clean your gutters often to eliminate an easily-solved problem.

Back up your sump pump. A power outage or sump pump malfunction could cause water to pool in your basement. Consider backing up your sump pump with a battery or even having a second pump on hand.

Listen to Authorities and Officials

Your city, town and/or state has rules for evacuating areas that are at risk of flooding. Always follow their instructions and avoid being stranded in a flooded home with these tips:

Know your evacuation plans. If your area is at risk of flooding, you could be contacted by an official via e-mail, phone and/or in-person. Follow their evacuation instructions to the letter, even if you don’t have time to pack up your belongings.

Follow relocation routes. Follow emergency official’s directions for leaving a flooded area. Driving in a flooded area is incredibly dangerous — move to higher ground following the designated route.

Listen for local weather announcements. If you aren’t informed by an official of a flood risk, that doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. Listen to local and national radio broadcasts for important weather and evacuation alerts.

Prepare Your Home for Flooding

If a flood is possible and you have time to prepare your home, use these tips to minimize the damage and protect your valuables:

Remove your furniture in lower and main levels. If you’re able, move your furniture from flood-prone areas of your house to a higher level. If that’s not possible, consider elevating furniture with blocks under the legs to keep them out of the floodwater.

Relocate electronics and other valuables. Take any electronic items from those flood-prone areas and place them in a safe location, too. If you have any important documents or items stored in computers or drives, copy them and back them up.

Move outdoor items. Things like lawn furniture, grills and other outdoor items will be the first to feel the effects of flooding, so relocate those to a safe area as well. If you have a shed on your property, don’t forget to elevate or move its stored items to higher ground.

Store potentially hazardous items. Things like weed killer, paint or any other chemical-based product can be especially dangerous if it’s exposed to flood water. Store any hazardous items in separate, waterproof containers far away from water.

Get Flood Insurance

Even if you don’t live near a body of water, you could still be at risk for a flood. Your homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flooding, but your American Family Insurance agent can help you get affordable flood coverage through the National Flood Insurance program. Here’s what flood insurance could protect:

Your home and its foundation. When floodwater causes damage to your home and foundation and threatens its structure, flood insurance can help you get it back to livable condition.

Clothes, furniture, electronics and other possessions. Flooding can ruin items necessary for your everyday life. So when it does damage to your furniture, clothes, televisions and other items, your insurance could help replace them.

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning. When your air conditioning unit or furnace are ruined by floods, flood insurance can help make sure your heating and cooling systems are fixed or replaced.

That’s not all flood insurance covers, though — check with your American Family Insurance agent (Opens in a new tab) to learn more about its benefits.

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