Flooding is one of the most common and most expensive disasters that can strike your home. In the US, flood insurance claims averaged $1.9 billion annually from 2006 to 2015. Flooding in your home can be caused by burst pipes, heavy rains, or natural disasters.
Unfortunately, once the flooding starts, there is very little you can do on your own to stop it. But, even though we humans are often powerless in the face of nature, it doesn’t mean you should leave everything to chance.
There’s plenty you can do to alleviate the danger and protect your home in case of a flood. Here are some ways you can “flood-proof” your home.
Stopping the Flood in its Tracks
You will need to turn off the water, electricity, and gas at the mains in the event of flooding. You must do it fast, before any water gets into your house. If the flooding is caused by a plumbing issue, you may even be able to stop it by shutting off the water everywhere.
So, before a home emergency strikes, you should find where the valves are and learn how you can safely shut everything off. It’s a good idea to leave an LED torch nearby in case you have to access the mains in the dark. You need to familiarize yourself with every water shut-off valve in your house:
- Whole-house shut-off: The main shut-off valve should be located on the outside of the pressure tank if your house is served by a well. To make sure the tank won’t burn out, you’ll need to cut the power to the tank as well.
The shut-off valve can be on either side of the water meter if your house has metered water. The meter can be located in a concrete “meter pit” on the street, an exterior wall of your house, or in the basement. In case the shut-off valve is located in the meter pit, you should be able to find it where the utility main meets the household feed line.
- Hot-water shut-off: Your water heater controls supplies all of the hot water in your home.In case there’s a flood, you’ll need to shut off the hot-water valve on your water heater.
- Sink shut-off: Beneath the vanity or the cabinet, there should be a couple of inline shut-offs. The shut-off on the right is for cold water, the one on the left is for hot water.
- Toilet shut-off: Under the toilet tank, there should be a ribbed oval handle. This is the inline shutoff.
- Washing machine: The shut-off valve for the washing machine supply should be located where the washer hose meets the house supply-line. In fact, it is a good idea to shut off this valve each time you leave your home for a longer period. Washer hoses are notoriously weak.
- Dishwasher shut-off: There should be a shutoff valve and reducer coupling under your kitchen sink that lead to the dishwasher. It should be located on the ½” hot-water supply line. If it is not here, the connection should be in the basement.
Stock Up on Sand Bags
There are a few ways you can redirect the flow of water away from your house:
- Sandbags are usually the traditional way, but it’s best to stock up on them in advance. Make sure everyone in the household knows where you keep them.
The more sandbags you have, the better. Get a few woven hessian jute bags (also called gunny sacks), and fill them up with sand. Sandbags don’t just block water, they also absorb water, so make sure to store them somewhere dry.
Naturally, you can use sandbags to prevent water from getting under the doors. But, you can also use sandbags to block drains, toilets, and sinks. They are also great for weighing down manhole covers.
- Flood bags are a great alternative to sandbags, but they are a more expensive solution. They are easier to store and move than sandbags. Instead of sand, they use crystals to absorb water.
Flood bags allow for a faster response to flooding. To create a barrier, flood bags expand quickly. However, you can use each flood bag only once, so don’t try to test out your flood bags before you actually need them.
- Flood barriers collect and store rising water. They are pods that connect together to create a dense barrier. For watertight corners, you can use flood barriers to create 90° angles.
There is no bolting required because each pod has a foam gasket base. It creates a seal with the ground when the water puts pressure on it.
The pods will empty out themselves once the water recedes. You can re-use them when needed. They are very easy to move around as well.
Floods are very messy. You can use sandbags, flood bags, and flood barriers, but there is only so much they can do to protect your home, especially if the flooding is caused by really heavy rain or natural disaster.
When it comes to floods, your best bet is to work on preventing flooding in your home and finding a way to salvage what can be salvaged. To avoid an even bigger disaster, you can hire an electrician to raise your utility meter and fuse box above the potential flood level.
They can also raise switches and outlets in your home to a higher level. In case a flood does damage to your home, you can recruit someone to help you handle the flood damage.
Assemble an Emergency Kit
To ensure you’ll be ready for anything, pack a bag with all your essential items. If you are unable to leave your home for a while, or if you have to get out fast, an emergency kit can prove to be a lifesaver. Your emergency kit should include:
- First aid kit;
- Non-perishable food;
- Drinking water;
- Essential medication;
- Rubber boots;
- Copies of important documents such as insurance policies and bank details.
As nasty as floods can be, it doesn’t mean we should just surrender our homes to them. If a flood strikes your come, there will be some damage, but there are a few things you can do to prevent a bigger disaster. By learning how to act in case of a flood, you can save a fortune on repairs.