Floods are unpredictable and one of the catastrophic weather events that cause significant damage to property and disrupt households. Did you know that floods account for 30% of Australia’s natural disasters? Well, now you know. Apparently, the most common form of flooding in the country entails the flooding of rivers after heavy rainfall.
Even then, there are several things you can do to minimise the effects of floods to your property and family. If you reside in an area that’s susceptible to floods, the number one thing you should do is to be well-informed about impending risks and tailor an emergency plan that will protect your home and family.
One of the things you should also do is to take out a home and contents insurance policy to cover you against flood damage.
Is your area prone to floods?
More often, flooding in Australia occurs as a result of overflowing rivers after heavy rains or overflowing drains in suburban regions.
If you have no idea whether the area you’re living, working or travelling to is prone to floods, be sure to check the local council and get advice as to whether your area of work or residence is earmarked for floods.
Find more about existing rivers, creek catchments or any plans to change drainage that could enhance flood risk levels within your area.
As you evaluate the level of flood risk for your area, note any other useful source of information you may come across including websites, contacts, radio stations and SMS update services. These will be of help when you’ll want to stay abreast with what’s happening around you when the flood strikes. Staying up-to-date enables you to make prompt and informed decisions for your family’s safety including whether to evacuate or stay.
Have a flood file
Once you understand your flood-risk levels, start getting ready for potential flooding. Assemble a personal flood file with all your insurance documents, insurance company contact information, as well as your household or property inventory that lists all your valuables and their receipts. Keep this file safely in a waterproof container. In case you have to lodge an insurance claim, this go-to flood file will save you more anguish and hassle.
Support your windows and doors
Ensure all your windows and doors are secure and can be closed and locked, and that there are no spaces to let water into the house in case of heavy showers. During the humid weather conditions, doors and windows can expand or shrink making complete closure of doors or windows difficult. Be sure to adjust them where necessary or add gap fillers to seal the spaces.
Assess your home
Besides reinforcing your home’s doors and windows, run a quick check of your entire property. Start with your sump pump and ensure it’s in perfect working condition. You can also consider installing a battery-powered backup pump to serve you throughout in case of a power outage. Water alarms can also be installed to provide alerts particular when your basement or lower levels become flooded.
Don’t forget about your roof gutters and downspouts! Clean them thoroughly. If possible, elevate above flood level all the electrical gadgets and components including sockets, switches, wiring and circuit breakers. If there’s an impending flood and you have adequate time to act, then move your furniture and other valuables that you can’t evacuate with. Move all these to a higher place within the property.
Sandbag your property
Even though sandbags may not fully safeguard your home from the effects of flooding, they do play a great role in reducing the damage caused by floods and help you save lots of money on repairs. You can purchase sandbags from hardware stores or landscaping suppliers. Fill them to about two-thirds full and be sure to use sand only, not soil. Set them on drains or floor wastes that could serve as entry points for grey waters flowing backwards. You can also lay sandbags in front of doorways, air vents, brickwork vents and roller doors.
Note: Sandbags should be discarded after the flood and any wet sandbags handled with gloved hands to avoid touching chemicals and other contaminants brought about by flood water.
Draw an emergency plan
If the place where you work or reside is at high risk of flooding, it is important to draw an emergency plan to help you know exactly what to do when floods occur. As you create your plan, think of what needs to be done to make it all-inclusive for every member of your household including your pets and those with special needs.
Think outside the box and consider things like what could happen if all roads were closed off and you had to experience blackouts and water outage for a given period of time. Consider how you would get in touch with other family members or friends during the emergency period and select a safe local area that you would evacuate to quickly when floods come.
Finally, have a general checklist to help you act promptly once you get news of flooding in your area. In your checklist, include things like filling up your car tank with petrol before floods happen, putting together your toolkit items, shutting doors and windows and laying up sandbags where necessary.
Educate family members
Ensure your family members are fully aware of the dangers of flooding. Warn them against using flooded roads, contaminated water, downed power lines, moving debris in flood waters and damaged electrical during storms. Additionally, inform them of the evacuation strategy so you can have an easy time mobilising them in case of an emergency.
Your evacuation strategy should outline where to go and how to get there. Understand your local community’s evacuation routes and make a point of contacting the friends or relatives you’ll be staying with once evacuated. Educate them about your emergency plan so they get ready to assist in case you need help.
Prepare an emergency toolkit alongside your outlined plan. Your toolkit should include a First Aid Kit, torches and a portable radio that use batteries (carry spare batteries), and several copies of your emergency plan. Also pack plenty of bottled water, blankets, rubber gloves, non-perishable food, medications, mobile phones and any other valuable documents or jewellery.
Switch offs during emergencies
In your emergency plan, include a checklist for switching off your gas connection, electrical switchboard, solar inverter, water supply and any other necessary sources during a flood. To avoid confusion, include their locations on your emergency plan so you can quickly turn them off when flooding occurs.
The information contained in this article is of a general nature only. It does not take your specific needs, objectives or circumstances into consideration, and is not financial advice, legal advice or otherwise a recommendation to purchase any financial product or insurance policy. You should seek your own independent financial advice from a qualified financial and insurance adviser before making any financial decisions, and seek your own independent legal advice from a qualified solicitor before making any decisions of a legal nature.