When you make it through the flood, get the important stuff out of the way first: pat yourself on the back. Flooding is scary, but eventually, the water will recede and the worst will be over. But it’s not all wine and roses yet; you’ll have some post-flood concerns to address. After you’ve made sure that everyone in your group is safe and accounted for, find out if it’s safe to leave your home or return to your home, depending on your evacuation status. Seriously, abide official advice. And if you remember nothing else from this guide, remember that flood water can hide hazards.
As we mentioned (and will continue to mention until you are reciting it in your sleep), flood water can be dangerous for many reasons. Don’t wade in flood water. Along with being contaminated, it can also hide hazards like downed power lines or sharp objects. These are things that could kill you dead. Avoid any visible downed power lines and areas that look structurally unsound. Try to stay off the roads as driving conditions won’t likely be ideal.
After a flood, keep an eye out for wild animals or stray pets, even in places you normally wouldn’t expect them. People aren’t the only beings displaced by flood water. Animals may use your home or neighborhood as a shelter. If you see tags on an animal, approach with caution, as fear, hunger, or exposure may have made them more aggressive, even if you’ve encountered them before.
If possible, don’t bring your kids when you first return to your home. It may be easier for them
to see it after you’ve prepared them for what they’re going to see.
In Your Home
Think about what happens when your toilet overflows, and you will know why flooding is so gross. Don’t drink the tap water without boiling it unless authorities have declared it’s safe to do so. Assume that it’s contaminated and rely on boiled or bottled water before bathing in or drinking it.
If you’ve been away from home, assess the structural integrity of your home before entering it. Don’t start thinking you’re immortal just because you survived a flood. Your home is full of secret dangers! Be especially mindful of electrical risks like flooded electrical panels and damaged appliances, which–if they don’t electrocute you first–could spark and cause a fire. Fire is still a major danger after a flood, since emergency services may not be accessible.
Water is a great conductor. It will conduct electricity straight into your body… which is also made of water. Be safe out there.
Even if you don’t see structural damage, inspect your home for other forms of damage. Mold is a serious post-flood concern, especially for those with respiratory conditions. If it isn’t removed, mold can also damage your home’s structural integrity, but do keep in mind that some forms of household mold are toxic enough that they’ll kill you before your house rots.
Document everything to submit to your insurer; they’ll require proof of the damage. Photos are key, so get all the angles. FEMA also provides post-flood assistance in some cases, so don’t be afraid to reach out to ask about your options. If the disaster was severe, counseling, immediate assistance, emergency housing, and other services should also be available. Stay connected to the news and social media to get updates about how to access these services.
Here’s hoping none of that applies to you! Either way, you’ll want to be prepared for the next one.