Floods and flash floods can come on fast and can create critical and unpredictable situations that require people to stay in their homes or evacuate if the waters enter the home. The right supplies can sustain a person and their family until the waters recede or help them to evacuate to higher ground. Gathering the necessary items ahead of time is the safest and most proactive approach to disaster safety. A good rule of thumb when planning for a possible disaster is to prepare for the worst case scenario so that all issues will be covered.
Drinking water is the best way to keep the body hydrated. Store 3 days worth of potable water in plastic containers. Potable water is water safe for human consumption. It is free of disease-causing microorganisms, poisonous substances, minerals, organic matter, chemical, biological and radioactive substances. Another method is to freeze water in plastic soda containers. FEMA recommends that a person should have 1 gallon of water per person for at least 3 days. Try to stay away from caffeinated beverages as much as possible as they tend to dehydrate the body.
Stockpile a 3 day supply of nonperishable items such as canned goods, dehydrated foods, high energy foods such as granola bars, power bars, trail mix, and cereals. Try and find foods that do not require a lot of water to prepare them. Certain family members may need special foods such as infant formula, baby food or needs for someone who is diabetic.
First Aid Kit
Keeping a well-stocked medical supply can come in handy if someone has an injury. First aid kits can be assembled at home and include all of the basic first aid items that may be needed. A list of complete first aid items can be seen here.
Maintain good hygiene and wash hands often. Sanitation items are good to keep around not only to stay clean but also to have in the event that someone comes in contact with the flood water. Flood waters have microorganisms such as E. Coli that can infect a person and cause them to have serious illnesses or injury. Items such as:
- Hand wipes
- Toilet paper
- Person hygiene items
- Feminine hygiene items
Pre-packed disaster tools in a centralized location can be a lifesaver if a person needs them in a time sensitive manner.
- Propane Stove
- Fire extinguisher (ABC variety)
- Battery operated radio
- Can opener (non-electric)
- Duct tape
- Multipurpose tool
- Waterproof matches
- Floatation device
- Tube Tent
- Extra cash
- Trash bags
- Signal Flare
- Wrench to shut off gas appliances and water
- Survival manual
- Plastic cups and plates
Bug Out Bag
In the case that a person has to evacuate, having a prepared 72-hour kit or bug out bag will expedite the process of leaving as well as keeping things running as smoothly as possible. A 72-hour bag should have all items necessary to survive for 3 days. When preparing a bag keep the main surviving points in mind (water, food, shelter, clothing). Having a separate bug out bag for the vehicle will also come in handy in the event that someone has to leave their home immediately.
Things to Avoid During a Flood
- Avoid the flood waters as much as possible. The CDC states that “flood waters may contain fecal material from overflowing sewage systems and agricultural and industrial bi-products.” Other serious germs are present in the water as well and some can enter through broken skin where infection can set in.
- Do not wade through the water. There are a number of unknown objects in the water, such as fallen electric lines that may still carry a charge, holes in the ground that cause a person to fall and possibly drown. Flood waters are not safe.
- Do not drink the water. Microorganisms such as E. Coli, Giardia, Toxoplasmosis, Norovirus, and Cryptosporidium can be ingested, thus causing severe illnesses. Not to mention, there could be traces of metals, leads or fertilizers in the water.
- Never drive through flood waters. Driving in flood water is extremely dangerous and unpredictable, and a car could easily be swept away.