What to do before, during and after your home floods

House flooded on Cypress Creek (KXAN)
House flooded on Cypress Creek (KXAN)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — If your house is flooding, know what steps you need to take to stay safe. The National Flood Insurance Program, as well as FEMA, has a list for you before, during and after a flood.

Before a flood

  • Make sure you have copies of all critical documents, including finance records or receipts of major purchases.
  • A household inventory: For insurance purposes, be sure to keep a written and visual (i.e., videotaped or photographed) record of all major household items and valuables, even those stored in basements, attics or garages. Create files that include serial numbers and store receipts for major appliances and electronics. Have jewelry and artwork appraised. These documents are critically important when filing insurance claims. For more information visit Know Your Stuff.
  • Have a copy of your insurance policies with your agents contact information.
  • Clear debris from gutters and downspouts
  • Create a safety kit with plenty of drinking water, canned food, first aid, blankets, radio and flashlights. FEMA says to keep a minimum 3-day supply of nonperishable food and bottled water on hand.
  • Have a plan to protect your pets

During a flood

  • If flooding occurs, go to higher ground and avoid areas subject to flooding.
  • Do not attempt to walk across flowing streams or drive through flooded roadways.
  • If water rises in your home before you evacuate, go to the top floor, attic, or roof.
  • Listen to a battery-operated radio for the latest storm information.
  • Turn off all utilities at the main power switch and close the main gas valve if advised to do so.
  • If you’ve come in contact with floodwaters, wash your hands with soap and disinfected water.

After a flood

  • If your home has suffered damage, call your insurance agent to file a claim.
  • Check for structural damage before re-entering your home to avoid being trapped in a building collapse.
  • Take photos of any floodwater in your home and save any damaged personal property.
  • Make a list of damaged or lost items and include their purchase date and value with receipts, and place with the inventory you took prior to the flood. Some damaged items may require disposal, so keep photographs of these items.
  • Keep power off until an electrician has inspected your system for safety.
  • Boil water for drinking and food preparation until authorities tell you that your water supply is safe.
  • Prevent mold by removing wet contents immediately. FEMA says mold can develop within 24 to 48 hours.
  • Wear gloves and boots to clean and disinfect. Wet items should be cleaned with a pine-oil cleanser and bleach, completely dried, and monitored for several days for any fungal growth and odors.

For an easy-to-use FEMA flood preparedness plan, go here.

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