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Friday, September 09, 2011

I am TIRED of the RAIN!

Well it has been raining for days!

Most people are just plain tired of the rain, but more importantly, they are tired of the wet basements, road closures, gridlock going and coming from work, and getting splashed by insensitive drivers. Most of these things you can't do ANYTHING about, but there are some things that you can take control over!

You can make a list of what you should have done before the rainy season started. For example do you have flood insurance? I don't, but I wish I had followed through on all those times I thought about purchasing it. Well, I can't get flood insurance to cover what is already damaged by this rainy season, BUT I can get it now for future rainy seasons. The first question to ask is "are you in the 100 year flood zone" or whatever they call it. If you do you stand a better chance of getting flood insurance. Want more information on flood insurance? Visit www.floodsmart.gov.

Another list item is to make sure that you have non-perishables in the house that can be quickly used JUST IN CASE your power goes out. Who would have thought that the solid oak standing in your yard would just follow over because of the over saturated ground. Worst yet, why did it have to fall on the power line and knock out all the power in the neighborhood. No, your neighbors will not blame you for an act of God, but it sure would help if you were prepared to be without lights for a day or two. So that leads to the next item on the list.

Make sure that you have flashlights and batteries or some other source of lighting that you can PUT YOUR HANDS on in a hurry especially if the lights go out at night! If you can afford it, a backup generator would be nice, but what do you do with it for months on end until you need it? Storage problem, but a good one if you have it when you need it.

BE PREPARED to shelter in place if you do not have a community center set up for you. Sometimes, this is the only thing you can do until rescue units can get to you. Sheltering in place means be prepared to move to the highest part of your house. Have your basic needs kit including medicines in place in the attic (assuming you have one) or other highest place where you live. Make sure they are in plastic bags to stay dry.

Got a family? MAKE SURE they know the plan. Drill, drill, drill. They need to know what to do and when to do it.

Gas up the family car just in case you may need to use it to get to higher ground. (NOTE: If you must drive, remember to be alert about high standing water or you could find yourself in a more dangerous situation.)

Still making that list? DO NOT FORGET to have on hand a battery powered radio with batteries available or in it because when the power goes, it goes also.

Portable phones may also prove unworthy of the journey. Make sure you have at least one old fashion plug in telephone assuming that you will still have telephone service.

DRY CLOTHING is an essential. Place at least ONE FULL set of clothing in a dry plastic bag. Double cover it to ensure that it stays dry. If you have to get out in the rain to safety, you will need some dry clothing to keep from catching cold and to warm up.

Got pets? What's going to happen to them? Dry to figure out what you will do with your pet(s) before the water rises. Have the pet cage handy. Have food for your pet stored with your non-perishables. Get your pet to safety early even if that means putting the pet up for a few days in a pet shelter that may be safer than your home. Do this EARLY. At the last minute, you will be consumed by other urgent and important actions to keep you and your family safe.

If a flood emergency is declared in your area and you are asked to evacuate, follow directions. Know where the nearest shelter is set up. DO NOT try to carry with you all of your possessions. You will have LIMITED space since everyone else will be headed to the same shelter in your neighborhood.

Finally, pack a few pictures and a book suitable for each family member. It could be a LONG time before you can return home, and the water may destroy all pictures and memories. (NOTE: Water guard these prior to the need to evacuate. If water tight, they may survive and be there for you later.)

GOT your LIST together? Good, here are some other safety tips. Some of these are overlapping, but are there to emphasize the importance of each item.

During the flood or heavy rains
• Don't tune out. Be aware of flash floods. If there is any possibility of a flash flood occurring, move immediately to higher ground.
• Listen to radio or television stations for local information.
• Be aware of streams, drainage channels and areas known to flood suddenly.
• Secure your home. If you have time, bring outdoor garden equipment and lawn furniture inside or tie it down. Move essential items to the upper floors of your house.
• If instructed, turn off utilities at the main switches or valves. Special tools may be required. Add this to your list when preparing ahead for flooding conditions.
• Sterilize the bathtub, then fill the bathtub with water in case water becomes contaminated or services are cut off. You can also purchase and store BOTTLE WATER for emergencies. Stay away from flood waters. They could be contaminated.
• Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet. If you must walk in a flooded area, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
• Do not drive into flooded areas. If flood waters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground, if you can do so safely. You and your vehicle can be quickly swept away as flood waters rise.
• Report broken utilities to the proper authorities
What to do after a flood?
• Stay away from flood waters. The water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline or raw sewage. The water may also be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.
• Stay away from moving water. Moving water only six inches deep can sweep you off your feet.
• Be aware of areas where flood waters have receded. Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car.
• Stay away from downed power lines and report them to the power company.
• Stay away from disaster areas unless authorities ask for volunteers.
• Continue listening to a battery-powered radio for information about where to get assistance for housing, clothing and food.
• Clean and have electrical equipment checked before using.
• Consider your family's health and safety needs. Wash your hands frequently with soap and clean water if you come in contact with flood waters. Throw away food that has come in contact with flood waters. Listen for news reports to learn whether the community's water supply is safe to drink.
• Contact your insurance agent.

Remember, be safe, and know that floodwaters sometimes take days to rise, even when the sun is shining. It can take days for floodwaters to make their way downstream. Don't underestimate the power and speed in which flood waters can rise and destroy everything in its path.