Reducing flood damage to home and property
- Published: Wednesday, May 3, 2017
TRENTON, Mo.– University of Missouri Extension has prepared a checklist of measures people can take to reduce the impact of floodwater on their homes.
__KNOW YOUR FLOOD RISK: Call your local emergency management office for information about flooding. Pay attention media reports monitoring the situation and the estimated date/time of arrival.
__CHECK YOUR SUMP PUMP: Clean the sump pump and pit, and test by pouring water into the pit. Consider having a spare submersible portable sump pump. Make sure the discharge hose delivers water several feet away from the house to a well-drained area. Don’t run sump pump water into a rural septic system. In cities, running sump pump water may overload the system, causing sewage backup, and it may be illegal.
__MOVE VALUABLES TO HIGHER LOCATIONS: Move irreplaceable items, tax records, insurance policies and household inventories to high shelves or even an attic. Make copies and store them in a waterproof container in another location not likely to flood. If your home is in danger of being totally flooded or destroyed, take valuables to a site out of the flooded area.
__PREVENT SEWER BACKUP: Plug or cap all sewer openings in the basement, including floor drains, toilets, sinks, showers, etc. Lift toilets and remove sink traps, capping openings with wooden plugs, expandable plugs, screwed caps or other methods.
__CHECK FLOOR DRAINS FOR A FLOAT PLUG: A floating floor drain plug (a ball in the drainpipe) will rise and plug the drain.
__PLUG BASEMENT FLOOR DRAINS: Remove the grid. Some hardware stores sell a plug with a rubber center that expands to fill the pipe when the top and bottom metal plates are squeezed. A flexible rubber ball can be wedged into the drain to create a tight seal. Brace the ball securely with a 2-by-4 against the ceiling, using a board or piece of plywood to avoid damage to plaster ceilings. For suspended ceilings, remove a few ceiling tiles to span a 2-by-4 across two joists and wedge the vertical 2-by-4 between it and the ball.
__REDUCE FLOODING FROM OTHER DRAINS: Unbolt toilets from the floor and plug the outlet pipe using the same procedure as for floor drains. Shower drains can be plugged this way too. Most washing machines and basement sink drain connections are about three feet above the floor, so they may not overflow if the water doesn’t get that high. These drains can be disconnected and capped, or plugged with expandable plugs or braced rubber balls.
__PREPARE APPLIANCES FOR FLOODING: Washers and dryers can be elevated on masonry or lumber at least 12 inches above the projected flood elevation. Other options are to move them to a higher floor or another location away from floodwaters. Shut off appliances at the fuse box or breaker panel. If large appliances can’t be moved, wrap them in polyethylene film and tie with cord or rope. The water will still get in, but most of the silt won’t. For gas clothes dryers and hot water heaters, shut off the gas and disconnect the appliances from the gas lines.
__SHUT OFF ALL UTILITIES (ELECTRICITY, GAS, WATER AND PHONE): These can cause problems once a building is flooded.
__MOVE HAZARDOUS MATERIALS TO HIGHER LOCATIONS: This includes paint, oil, cleaning supplies, pesticides and other dangerous materials.
__ANCHOR FUEL TANK SECURELY: Securely anchor fuel tanks. Make sure vents and fill-line openings are above projected flood levels. Propane tanks are property of the propane company, so you will need permission to anchor them. Ask whether the company can do it first. Be sure all work conforms to state and local building codes.
__REMOVE ALL POROUS MATERIALS: Carpet and wall coverings are easier to remove when dry and clean. Solid wood can tolerate water, but pressed-wood products cannot be salvaged. Finishes don’t provide a waterproof barrier, so finished wood materials are still porous.
__DISCUSS SAFE EMERGENCY PROCEDURES: Know the locations of fuse boxes or breaker panels, water service mains and natural gas mains and how to turn them off.
__ASSEMBLE SUPPLIES FOR A POSSIBLE EVACUATION: Gather water, nonperishable food, paper plates/cups and plastic utensils, extra clothing, shoes, blankets or sleeping bags, a first-aid kit, prescription medications, cash and credit cards, important phone numbers, and special items for babies and the elderly. Ensure each family member has identification, especially young children. Name tags on clothing, wallet cards and wristbands are all useful.
__KEEP THE CAR FUELED: Gas stations may not be able to operate due to lack of electricity.
__PLAN AND PRACTICE AN EVACUATION ROUTE: Contact your local emergency government office or local American Red Cross chapter for a community flood-evacuation plan. This plan should include information on the safest routes to shelters.
__PLAN FOR PETS: Plan ahead for a safe location for your pet(s) and arrange for their care.
__DEVELOP AN EMERGENCY COMMUNICATION PLAN: In case family members are separated, choose a long-distance relative or friend who can serve as the “family contact,” as it is often easier to call long-distance after a disaster than to place a local call.
__DISCUSS THE SITUATION WITH CHILDREN HONESTLY AND OPENLY: Hiding the situation from them will probably make it even more stressful.
For more information, contact your local MU Extension center or visit the MU Extension emergency management website at extension.missouri.edu/cemp.