If you want to be as cool as your cool uncle during a flood, first purchase a leather vest (very important) and then practice your flood prep drills. Your action plan during the drill should include a few versions so you can try evacuation only and a drill that encompasses both home preparation and evacuation. Have your family follow all procedures as if you were experiencing an actual flood. Write your action plan down and keep a copy in your go bag. Give everyone in your family a bullet point list of their responsibilities in chronological order, and keep a copy of these lists in the go bag as well.
For your evacuation drill, time yourself to find out how long it takes you to gather the family, collect the go-bags, and hit the road. Drive several of your evacuation routes to determine how long they take, and factor these times into your planning. During an actual emergency, traffic and delays will substantially increase time spent on the road, so plan accordingly.
Don’t drill just one route, as flooding may block roads or cause insane traffic. Review your county’s official evacuation routes. Choose routes that move to higher ground. While you’re drilling, remind the family that you should never drive around barriers during a flood; they’re there to keep you safe. Ignoring these signals could mean driving into an even more hazardous situation, so be safe, not sorry.
Prepare Your Home
For your home prep + evacuation drill, time yourself to see how long it takes you to complete the tasks you determined in the home prep section. If your family isn’t able to move certain pieces of furniture or valuables to higher floors in a reasonable amount of time, consider moving those items to higher floors permanently, or pare down your list of pre-flood tasks. Do a dry run with your sandbags and tarps. It can take two adults an hour to fill and place roughly 100 bags, Consider storing filled sandbags to increase your speed during a crisis, if you have the space and live in a high-risk area.
If it’s difficult to complete your home prep quickly with your existing tools, consider upgrading to increase your speed or make it easier. Every second counts, and you’ll want to evacuate ASAP. Once your house is prepped, perform your evacuation drill as listed above.
Performing emergency drills at least once a year will make your family more confident–they’ll know exactly what to do when the storm comes!
What to Do During a Flood
During your drills, you should also review with your family what to do if you’re caught in a flood.
Try to get to higher ground. This might mean evacuating as planned if you’re at home, or simply moving to higher ground if you’re out of the house when disaster strikes. If evacuation is advised while you’re out, it is likely unwise to return home to get your emergency kit. If the flood arrives quickly enough that you can’t leave your home, go to the highest floor or to your roof, if necessary.
If you’re driving and a flood catches you by surprise, you can safely drive through a few inches of flood water, but even six inches is enough to carry your car away. Don’t travel through flood water if you have any other option, and don’t use bridges over fast-moving water. Try to move to higher ground. If water rises around your car, stay in your car, especially if the water has any current. If the water begins to seep in, get out and onto the roof.
This information can be scary for kids, so decide what’s relevant for each child depending on their age and maturity level.
If a young child’s only role in an emergency will be to listen closely for instructions, stay calm, and stay close to you so you can keep them safe, it may be best to emphasize only those points and that they should never voluntarily enter flood waters.
Now that we’ve reached the fever pitch of terror as it pertains to floods, you can breathe a sigh of relief: if you’re drilling well and feeling good about it, you’ll do great in a real disaster. But what happens after the flood?