How to Reduce Flood Effects

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Floods are a devastating force of nature that can completely destroy a home. High waters will overwhelm a house regardless of what protective measures are put in place, but there are several ways to prevent extensive damage to a house from a minor flood. Advanced planning, such as cutting out plywood for windows and cleaning gutters, is critical. Apart from creating a perimeter of sandbags, there is little that can be done as the flood waters approach.

Things You'll Need

  • Strong hinges
  • Deadbolts
  • Wood brace
  • Shatter-resistant glass
  • Packing tape
  • Plywood
  • Storm shutters
  • Caulk
  • Check valve
  • Rain spouts
  • Sill plate
  • Waterproof safe
  • Install doors that swing outward. These have a better resistance against the pressures of water pushing against it. Reinforce the doors with solid hinges and double deadbolt locks and, in the face of a flood, solid metal and wood braces across the door.

  • Protect your home's interior using impact-resistant window glass that can withstand flying debris. At the least use packing tape, which will keep windows from shattering but not breaking. Mount plywood or storm shutters over windows for added protection.

  • Weatherproof the joints and seals in your home, using waterproof caulk. Annually check the weatherstripping in places such as doors where water is likely to seep into the house.

  • Strengthen your pipes with check valves to keep flood waters from traveling through storm drainings and into your house.

  • Grade the soil around your house's foundation with a 5 to 10 percent slope. The soil in the crawl space under your house should also be graded so that it gently slopes outward from the center of your house. Construct storm vents to relieve water pressure under your house if the bottom is enclosed; regularly check to make the vents are not clogged with debris.

  • Direct rainwater at least five to six feet from the house by extending your rain spouts. Direct water flowing into your yard from higher ground away from your house using small swales or berms. Keep in mind these are only effective against slow-moving water that's less than 3 feet deep.

  • Strengthen your foundation walls with a protective cover,called a sill plate. It should be anchored in place with rust-resistant bolts placed no more than six feet apart. Bolts should be 5/8 inch in diameter and at least 15 inches long, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

  • Store your important documents such as birth certificates and Social Security cards in a protected place like a waterproof safe or safety deposit box. Also include a "flood file," which should include a copy of your insurance policy and an inventory of your possessions. Back up the latter with photographs or video.

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