Protecting yourself before, during and after a flood

A flash flood watch has been issued for the Tri-State beginning at 3 p.m. The combination of rain and melting snow could lead to flooding.

These tips from the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) could not only save your home or vehicle, but also your life.

Before the Flood

  • All it takes is a few inches of water to cause major damage to your home and its contents.
  • Clear yard of any debris, plant material or items (garden décor, foliage, or garbage cans) that can block water flow and storm drains
  • If time permits, secure and/or elevate outdoor appliances, AC units or storage tanks.
  • Analyze water flow through your yard and consider how water moves during a typical thunderstorm.  Inspect critical areas (storm drains, culverts, berms, gutters and downspouts) to identify potential blockage to proper flow of water away from your home.
  • Place important papers (birth/marriage certificates, passports, bank and insurance information) in a watertight container and keep them close.  Take the container with you if evacuating or place in a high and dry location if sheltering in place.
  • Take photographs or videos to create an inventory of your personal possessions and keep the camera card handy in case of evacuation. Don't forget to open closets and drawers to document all of your belongings as they will become part of any potential insurance claim.
  • Identify and move electronics and other expensive items (computers, televisions, phone systems, area rugs, expensive furniture) on lower levels of the home and elevate if possible to keep them dry.

During the Flood

  • Get to higher ground. Stay away from flood-prone areas, including dips, low spots, valleys, ditches, washes, etc.
  • Avoid flooded areas or those with rapid water flow. Do not attempt to cross a flowing stream. It takes only six inches of fast flowing water to sweep you off your feet.
  • Don't allow children to play near high water, storm drains or ditches. Hidden dangers could lie beneath the water.
  • Flooded roads could have significant damage hidden by floodwaters. Never drive through floodwaters or on flooded roads.  Water only one foot deep can float most automobiles.
  • Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to see flooded roads.

 After the Flood

  • Take photographs of damage throughout the building and around the property. Assess stability of plaster and drywall. Bulging or swelling ceilings indicate damage. Press upward on drywall ceilings. If nail heads appear, drywall will need to be re-nailed but can be saved.
  • Check foundation for any loose or missing blocks, bricks, stones or mortar.
  • Empty basement water at a rate of about one-third per day to avoid structural damage to foundation by rapid pressure change.
  • Clean and disinfect heating, air conditioning and ventilation ducts before use to avoid spread of airborne germs and mold spores. Use fans and sunlight to dry out interior spaces. Remove all wet carpets, curtains and fabrics. Allow to air dry completely.

Federal Alliance for Safe Homes is a nonprofit organization, and consumer advocate for strengthening homes and safeguarding families from natural and manmade disasters.

To learn more about how much flooding can cost you check out this cost of flooding tool provided by FloodSmart. For more home and family safety tips visit or

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