You may think a flood can't happen to you because you don't live in a low-lying area or along a hurricane-prone coast, but in fact, almost any home can flood. Heavy rains and rising rivers can also leave your home a wet mess or worse. |
The one good bit of news about flooding is that it rarely happens with no notice. Modern meteorology gives us plenty of warning for hurricanes and violent storms, and rivers' flood stages are monitored closely. While advance warning won't let you pick up your entire house and move it to safety, advance planning can keep you from sustaining needless damage from flooding.
Store Things In High Places
Flood damage doesn't happen only when your home takes on many feet of water. Even a few inches of flooding can wreak havoc on your flooring and walls. While you can't move everything out of the way or put everything in your attic, you can prevent the loss of much of your property simply by making a habit of keeping everything off the floor.
Take a moment to think about everything in your home that's lower than six inches. Antique rugs, shoes, boxes of paperwork, art that you haven't had the chance to put on your walls yet, old college notebooks, boxes of photographs, books on the lowest shelves of bookcases--even a little flood water will sweep them all away. Keep shoes in shoe trees or on shelving in your closet and reserve the bottom shelf of your bookcase for waterproof items like DVDs or decorative ceramic pieces. If your evacuation is imminent, roll up rugs and move electronics to high ground.
Remove Dust Ruffles and TrailingTrim
Although your bed frame will likely withstand a flood, your bedding can't. Dust ruffles on your bed are lovely, but in a flood, they trail in the water and wick it up to soak your mattresses, causing them to mildew. Tuck the ruffle between your mattresses and well out of the way of flood water or remove it entirely before you leave your house for an evacuation.
The same goes for decorative fringe or dust flaps on upholstered furniture. While you probably can't remove sewn-on trim or dust flaps, you can tack or tape it out of the way securely with safety pins or duct tape. It's possible to clean muddy residue from wooden or metal chair legs, but nothing will remove the mold and mildew that can grow in upholstery if it stays wet for any length of time.
Check the Clothing in Your Closet
If even the bottom inch of a long garment gets wet, water will climb it via capillary action and destroy not only that article of clothing, but possibly neighboring items as well. Before you leave, take a quick look in your closet. Drape the hem of any item that's visibly longer than the rest over the closet bar or another clothes hanger to keep it clear of the water.
Empty Your Refrigerator
You might be tempted to unpack everything and eat what's in your freezer if it's still frozen when you get home. Remember, though, that what's frozen now could have spent hours at room temperature; refrozen food is unsafe to eat. If you can't bear the thought of losing that much food, there's a way to tell if what's in your freezer has stayed frozen throughout a power outage if you plan ahead. Place a pencil atop a couple of ice cubes in your freezer before you leave. If the pencil is still on the cubes and undisturbed when you get home, then your power was never off for long enough for food to thaw and refreeze. If the pencil's embedded in a frozen puddle, toss everything; it could make you quite ill. The rule here is: When in doubt, throw it out.
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