Monday, August 17, 2015

Be Safe ~ Be Smart: Flood Prep

The number one natural disaster in the United States is floods, and Florida leads the country with twice as many claims and twice as much money paid out than the second state on the list [Alabama]. While a flood is a temporary condition, it is also a potentially dangerous and expensive experience. 

In the Tampa Bay region, it's not usually swollen rivers overflowing their banks, but heavy rainfall in a short period of time, measured in hours, not days or weeks or the high tides in South Tampa.   The topography is fairly flat, and there are not many appropriate places for rainwater to go once the drain systems are overwhelmed. So, it leaks and pours into inappropriate places, like your house. 

You can't control Mother Nature, but you can be prepared and remain safe during torrential rains and local flooding.   About half of people who die in floods are trying to drive through water.  The Bin There Dump That Dumpster Diva is here to tell you that water is one powerful force.   It creates valleys like the Grand Canyon, can sweep away a car or SUV in a mere two-foot depth, and a person can go down quickly in as little as six inches of rapidly moving water.  

If you live in Aspen, Colorado, you should be prepared for heavy snows and power outages.  If Chicago is your home, its nickname of the Windy City is a clue that mega breezy conditions may occur.  And if you are lucky enough to reside in the Sunshine State of Florida, flooding could be the thorn in your side.  Preparation is key, even if there's nary a cloud in the sky.  

Things to keep on hand year round, plus extras you can gather even one day in advance:
  • flashlights and batteries
  • radio with batteries
  • pet flood emergency plan
  • spare toiletries in a secure bag
  • change of clothes in waterproof container
  • dry foods, snacks and pet food
  • medicine
  • flotation devices (why not?) for every member of the family
  • know how to shut off power and gas to your house
  • fully charged cell phone
  • at least a few gallons of clean water.

All levels of government stay informed and impart information to the public as it becomes available.  Stay tuned in advance to weather alerts and heed both watches and warnings.  Hold a family powwow and go over emergency procedures, plans and supplies.  

Take advantage of free sandbags, like the City of Tampa recently provided, and all other services, including moving to a shelter in advance.  Emergency Medical Services personnel and equipment are stretched to the limit during natural disasters, and people who plan ahead need not be in the statistics of those who need evacuation assistance or among those who perish in the disaster.   Be part of the solution, not the problem. 
  • Stay calm and clear-headed
  • Tune in for local news and information often
  • Do not drive or walk in moving water
  • Evacuate in advance if it looks worse than normal
  • Cut off your own power if water rises
  • Don't touch any downed power lines
  • Refrain from swimming
  • Be smart, sensible and safe
Since hurricanes are a serious source of flooding, many of our resources locally address flooding in hurricane preparedness communication.  Here are a few local resources for flood preparation around our area:

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