March 15-21, 2009 is National Flood Safety Awareness week. FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program’s website has some great resources to help you estimate your potential flood risks as well as information about how you can get flood insurance. By entering my address into their “One-Step Flood Risk Profile”, I was able to get an instant assessment of my home’s flood risk (“Low to moderate – Hoorah!). You will also get a list of insurance agents in your vicinity which offer flood insurance through this program (and you can call them directly through Skype if you have the internet explorer or firefox plug-in installed – very convenient!)
Visit the FEMA Map Service Center and check out the official flood maps for your home – called FIRMS for Flood Insurance Rate Maps – (mine is not at risk for flooding – but I knew that – living at the top of Park Slope by the park as I do). You can view the maps online without having to buy them. Don’t miss NOAA’s floodsafety site – they have a ton of useful resources and information about flooding for National Flood Safety Awareness week as well, including a link to the National Weather Service’s Advanced Hydrological Prediction Service, which includes lots of real-time data on maps, and links to their RSS feeds.
So, take the time this week to be Living Prepared™ for National Flood Awareness Week by:
- Educating yourself
- Assessing your risks
- Taking steps to protect yourself & your property, including getting flood insurance if you need it
The Floodsmart.gov website section on flood preparedness – Before a Flood has some decent recommendation on steps you can take to prepare for a flood:
1. Safeguard your possessions.
Create a personal “flood file” containing information about all your possessions and keep it in a secure place, such as a safe deposit box or waterproof container. This file should have:
- A copy of your insurance policies with your agent’s contact information.
- A room-by-room inventory of your possessions, including receipts, photos, and videos.
- Copies of all other critical documents, including finance records or receipts of major purchases.
2. Prepare your house.
- Make sure your sump pump is working.
- Clear debris from gutters and downspouts.
- Anchor any fuel tanks.
- Raise your electrical components (switches, sockets, circuit breakers, and wiring) at least 12 inches above your home’s projected flood elevation.
- Place the furnace, water heater, washer, and dryer on cement blocks at least 12 inches above the projected flood elevation.
- Move furniture, valuables, and important documents to a safe place.
3. Develop a family emergency plan.
- Create a safety kit with drinking water, canned food, first aid, blankets, a radio, and a flashlight.
- Post emergency telephone numbers by the phone and teach your children how to dial 911.
- Plan and practice a flood evacuation route with your family. Know safe routes from home, work, and school that are on higher ground.
- Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to be your emergency family contact.
- Have a plan to protect your pets.
This is also a good time to order a vehicle escape tool – if you haven’t already done so. I recently replaced my ResQMe with a new one for two reasons: First, I had been carrying this ResQMe around for a couple of years now and the belt cutter looked a little rusty. I was concerned that it would not be as sharp as I would want it to be. Second, and more importantly, it had fallen off of my keychain and was lost. This was a bit disconcerting as I had read some reviewers of the ResQMe that were concerned that the tool could become dislodged from one’s keychain during an accident resulting in a car going into the water. But I think it takes a really good tub to pull loose and I snagged mine on something.
I also ordered and have now received the Victorinox Rescue Tool – and boy, am I impressed. This is a professional tool for a rescue worker as much as for an individual. As I suspected, it is a bit large to carry around on a daily basis, especially with the bright red belt pouch with neon yellow trim. It is also not quite as purposeful to use on a daily basis as the blades are long, sharp and locking. I wouldn’t want to use this to trim threads from my daughter’s sweater. One nice feature is that the flat-head screwdriver blade also locks, making it possible to put a lot of torque onto it and making me wish that the phillips head screwdriver locked as well. It’s going in my emergency kit though, where I know where to get at it when disaster strikes.
So, be Living Prepared™ for National Flood Awareness Week!
Filed under: disaster preparedness, emergency preparedness, personal preparedness | Tagged: disaster preparedness, emergency preparedness, fema, flooding, floods, National Flood Awareness Week, National Flood Insurance Program, NOAA, personal preparedness, preparedness, ResQMe, vehicle escape tool, Victorinox Rescue Tool | Leave a Comment »