What to Do When A Flood Compromises Your Home

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Hurricane Sandy has made its wrath known throughout New England, and millions upon millions of people have found themselves affected in some way by this intense storm.  In California, we’re obviously far removed from this current threat, but seeing our fellow citizens on the other side of the country put through these trials and tribulations can serve as a stark reminder of all the precautions that need to be taken before, during, and after a vicious storm.  A new article provides tips to anyone who might be endangered by the ravages of a disaster.

First, one needs to know what to do during a flood situation.  Flood waters pose numerous hazards, from electrocution risks to contamination threats and more.  As such, it’s absolutely vital that you limit your exposure to water that has accumulated in basements and in puddles and rivers throughout the streets.  If the danger is such that authorities advise an evacuation, then you also should understand what types of items to take with you.  The Red Cross offers a valuable checklist, but at a glance, you should have such things as cellphones (with chargers), cash, batteries, important documents (such as insurance policies), a flashlight, food, fresh water, clothes, and a first aid kit.

A loss of power typically goes hand in hand with a flood.  At such times, it might be tempting to use a generator, but you absolutely should not use one inside your home.  And if flooding is such that there’s no safe place to put it outside, then you might be out of luck.  The same goes for a camp stove or a grill.

One of the biggest dangers stems from the foodborne illness threat that sets in within hours of a power outage.  Keep your refrigerator closed to keep food fresh for four hours, and understand that a filled freezer makes food last about 48 hours.  Have a cooler prepared in case the loss of electricity extends to days.

Storms can put people with medical conditions in a particularly precarious situation.  If someone in your family has diabetes, that person is likely susceptible to infections, so take care of wounds immediately and check their feet often to see if a cut has developed.  Also have plenty of fresh water on hand to keep fluid levels up.

Finally, know what to do once the storm is over.  If you notice that flooding occurred near a gas meter, contact SoCalGas prior to turning the electricity back on.  To ensure that you can collect the necessary insurance money, document all damage through photographs.  And be on the lookout for cracks in the foundation, loosened power lines, and compromised gas lines.