Floods are one of the most common hazards in the U.S. Since 1981, 99 of the 102 counties in Illinois have been declared major disaster areas due to flooding. But not all floods are alike. Some develop slowly – often times over a period of days. Flash floods can develop quickly, sometimes in a matter of minutes and without any visible signs of rain.
- Find out if you live in a flood-prone area by visiting https://www.floodsmart.gov/.
- Know if your property is above or below the flood stage water level and learn about the history of flooding for your region. Ask your insurance agent about flood insurance.
- Have check valves installed in building sewer traps to prevent flood waters from backing up in sewer drains.
- Seal walls in basements with waterproofing compounds to avoid seepage.
- Raise items in basements or at ground level to upper floors or higher off the ground to prevent damage if floodwater enters your home.
During a Flood
- Listen to local television, radio and the National Weather Service for updated information.
- If you are not evacuating, move essential items to an upper floor and stick to higher ground.
- If you are advised to evacuate, do so immediately. Evacuation is simple and safer before the flood waters rise. Don’t forget to consult your family emergency plans and take your Go Bags with you.
- Be aware of streams, dry riverbeds, drainage channels and other areas known to flood suddenly. Flash floods can occur in these areas with or without typical warnings like rain clouds or heavy rain.
- Never walk through moving water, as it is deceptively strong.
- Do not drive through flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon it and move to higher ground.
- Know that six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars, causing loss of control and possible stalling. Most vehicles begin to float in just 12 inches of water and 24 inches of water will sweep most cars away, including SUVs and pick-ups.
After a Flood
- Stay out of flooded buildings. Use caution when entering damaged structures - their foundations may have been weakened.
- Stay away from downed electrical lines and weakened roads and bridges.
- Floodwaters, standing water and floodwater residue pose various risks including injuries, infectious diseases and chemical hazards. After a flood, the ground and floors are covered with debris including broken bottles and nails. Floors and stairs that have been covered with mud can also be very slippery.
- Small animals that have been flooded out of their homes may seek shelter in your home or in debris left on your property. Use a pole or stick to poke and turn things over and scare away small animals.
- Do not use appliances or motors that have gotten wet unless they have been taken apart, cleaned and dried. Clean and disinfect everything that got wet, as it may contain sewage or chemicals.