Disaster Preparation

Written by Bonnie McElfresh
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The best way to prepare for any disaster is to know exactly what is likely to happen, as far as possible. This means studying your area for weather history and more. Severe weather far and away accounts for most of the disasters that happen in the US. If a flood watch, for example, is announced for your area, flooding is possible. If you get a flood warning, then it is imminent and you'd better step up your disaster preparation. This might include investigating how high the water might rise, and how long the flooding might last.

Usually flooding is accompanied by other aspects of severe weather, such as thunderstorms or high winds. These are hazards in themselves and there are guidelines for defending your property, for example, if there is a likelihood you could get struck by lightning. To begin with, don't shelter under a tree or near a metal object of any description in a severe electrical storm. You can shelter in a car because the lightning will travel over it. Never use a phone because it could direct the lightening to you. Finally, if you feel that your skin and tongue are tingling, it is likely that you're about to get struck by lightening. The best way to deal with it is to quickly seek a low spot, and crouch with your head bent forward and feet together. This is because lightning will usually strike the tallest objects in the area. In the middle of an electrical storm, you are safer inside a building.

Preparations for Flooding

If a flood is imminent, it is crucial that you turn off all utilities including gas, electricity and water mains before actual floodubg commences. If the flood has already happened, do this if you can without wading through water. Never wade through flood water that may have electricity coursing through it. Instead, get to the highest point you can in your home and call for help.

Prior to the time of year when flooding might occur, take precautions that may help to avert flooding. This might include making sure that a river running through or past your property is not choked with debris such as fallen trees and rocks. If the water has free passage, you may be able to avoid rising water levels.

Check your home for water-tightness. Install one-way valves in your sewage system to prevent sewage backing up in a flood. If you haven't done this, once the water level begins to rise, you could cork your drains and sink outlets and then place a heavy object with sandbags on top. It's not ideal, but anything is better than nothing at all.

Setting up Defenses

Prepare dikes of sandbags to protect your home from flood water. This won't prevent all water from coming in, but it will direct the flow of water past your property instead of through it. Board up doors and windows, and move all valuables, furniture, and especially electrical appliances upstairs, even if that's just to the attic. Finally, if a flood happens, be extremely cautious when your return to your home. You don't know if the building may have been made unsafe by the water.

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