The Big List of Nasty Disasters: Part Eight – How to Survive a Flood

A Flood of Biblical Proportions

In the deadliest flood ever recorded, every person on the earth —  except for the first “prepper family”– died. You can read the story in the book of Genesis, chapter seven.

Noahs ark survive a flood

Thankfully, there hasn’t been a flood like that since.

However, that doesn’t mean that there haven’t been some nasty and deadly floods. In fact, there have been many, and according to FEMA floods were the number-one natural disaster of the 20th-century.

If you look at the graph below (provided by the NOAA), you will see that on a ten-year average, floods account for 84 deaths each year. However, in 2015 that number was blown-out-of-the-water (pun intended) with a total of 172 deaths nationwide.

Source: NOAA National Weather Service

Furthermore, if that isn’t enough to convince you to prepare, in 1972, a slow-moving thunderstorm caused a flash flood in Rapid City, South Dakota. That flood killed 237 people and caused over $160 million (1972 dollars) in damages .

Therefore, history and the fatality data show that floods are extremely dangerous and costly. They can put you and your family in immediate danger as well as cause expensive damage to your property.

Preparing now is prudent and can help prevent injury, or worse. A little preparation can also help you to protect your property from potential damage.

So what can you do to prepare? Here’s a list to make things easy.

How to prepare for flooding

Research whether your home, school, work, etc. are prone to flooding. You can use the FEMA flood maps to see if these places are in a flood plane.

Plan a shelter-in-place location that is safe from flooding. It’s a good idea to have a location nearby as well as out-of-state if possible.

Prepare a family communication plan. This plan should include emergency meeting places where your family will go if you can’t stay in your home. It should include nearby locations as well as locations out of town and out of state. Also, include all contact information for each member of your family, such as phone numbers, email accounts, social media accounts, medical facilities, doctors, and school contacts.

Store drinking water in clean sealed containers since the water supply may become contaminated for some time. See our article on How To Prepare for any Disaster for water storage recommendations.

Sign up for any alert services your children’s school may have.

Maintain your vehicle. Keep extra blankets in it.

Keep your Emergency Vehicle Kit Stocked. See our article on “How to Build the Ultimate Survival Kit: with Checklist to build your kit.

Fill up your tank. If you know you might have to evacuate, fill up your gas tank well in advance.

Identify multiple evacuation routes and avoid low-lying areas, bridges, and roads

Don’t hesitate. Plan to make the decision to evacuate with enough time to get out. Do not wait until it’s too late.

Prepare your home. If you live in a flood plain prepare your home each fall for possible flooding.

Identify and repair any drainage issues around your home.

Make sure your sump pump is in good working order.

Store sandbags. This will only work for less than three feet of water and should be used to divert water, not as a method to keep water out of your home. As a consequence, water beneath the ground may collect around the foundation and cause the house to “float” upwards causing structural damage.

Make sure that your shelter-in-place supplies are stored in a place where they will not be destroyed by flooding.

Use waterproof bags and containers to protect food, medicine, clothing and electronics.

Create a bug-out-binder. A bug-out-binder is a place where you keep copies (originals if necessary) of all of your relevant documents. I recommend a sturdy, zippable binder like the C-Line expandable binder for this — of course; you can use whatever suits you best. Quick tip: In addition to a bug-out-binder, create a secondary backup binder at a separate location. Also, scan, or photograph, your documents and save them to a USB flash drive. Make backups of the flash drive too.

Quick tip: In addition to a bug-out-binder, create a secondary backup binder at a separate location. Also, scan, or photograph, your documents and save them to a USB flash drive. Make backups of the flash drive too. You can download our bug-out Binder checklist here.

Necessary Supplies

  • Water — at least gallon per person per day. Blue Can or Datrex Foil Pouches are excellent options
  • Food — at least a 3-day supply of non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food. Such as this prepper pack from Wise foods
  • Propane stove or other means of boiling water and cooking
  • Flashlight
  • Lantern – Streamlight makes an incredible lantern that is well priced. See video here
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio. Such as this NOAA Weather Radio with built in solar charger and flashlight
  • Extra batteries
  • First aid kit – I highly recommend the Elite fully stocked GI issue medic kit bag
  • First Aid Manual – I recommend the American Red Cross Handbook
  • Medications (7-day supply) and medical items (hearing aids with extra  batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, cane)
  • Multi-purpose tool – I like the Leatherman Wave.
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items such as a Covered bucket. Check out the Luggable Loo. It features a seat lid which just might save your hiney from some unnecessary pain.
  • Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, deed/lease to home,  birth certificates, insurance policies)
  • Cell phone with chargers
  • Family and emergency contact information
  • Extra cash
  • Emergency  blanket
  • Map(s) of the area
  • Baby supplies (bottles,  formula,   baby food, diapers)
  • Pet supplies (collar, leash,  ID, food, carrier, bowl)
  • Tools/ supplies for securing your home
  • Extra set of car keys and house  keys
  • Extra clothing, hat, and sturdy  shoes
  • Raingear
  • Insect repellent and sunscreen
  • Camera for photos of damage

How to survive flooding

Stay informed – Listen to NOAA Radio, TV, and the Internet for National Weather Service (NWS) information. Now the difference between a watch and a warning.

  • A flood/flash flood WATCH means a flood or flash flood is possible.
  • A flood/flash flood WARNING means flooding or flash flooding is already occurring or will occur soon. TAKE IMMEDIATE PRECAUTIONS!

Shut off utilities, gas, water, electricity.

If possible, block and divert any water that might flood your home.

Unplug electrical devices, unless you are already wet or standing in water

Move valuables to shelves or an upper floor.

Be Prepared to Evacuate the area at a moment’s notice.

Get to higher ground – even your roof.

If in your vehicle, get to higher ground. Also, do not cross through running water unless absolutely necessary. If stuck in running water, leave your vehicle and get to higher ground.

Stay away from flood water. six inches of flowing water can knock you off your feet.

Prepare for extended loss of essential services.

Restock your emergency kits if necessary.

Driving Through Floods

It is best to avoid driving through floods altogether if possible. Do not drive through fast moving water.

Over 50 percent of deaths in flash floods occur because people get trapped in their vehicle.

  • Six inches of water can cause most passenger vehicles to lose control and stall.
  • Twelve inches of water can float most passenger vehicles.
  • Two feet of moving water can cause, cars, trucks, and utility vehicles to be swept away.

When driving through floods, put your vehicle in low gear and drive slowly. Also, If practical disconnect the engine fan to prevent water from spraying all over the engine compartment. Diesel engines are not affected by water unless water enters through the air intake or air filter, or into the fuel tank through the breather or fill tube.

Additional Resources

BACK TO INDEX: The Big List of Nasty Disasters and How to Prepare: Part One


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