What to do before a flood
BEFORE A FLOOD
- Fourteen people died as a result of driving across flooded roads in 2015, 11 of whom perished during the major flood in late December. This was the highest annual number of flood fatalities since records have been kept.
- Prolonged flooding from creeks and rivers and flash flooding from rain swollen roads and waterways are dangers that too many people ignore, sometimes with fatal consequences. Many flood-related rescues, injuries and fatalities have been the result of people in vehicles attempting to drive across flooded roads.
- The most dangerous type of flooding is a flash flood. Flash floods can sweep away everything in their path.
- Most flash floods are caused by slow-moving thunderstorms and occur most frequently at night. The peak time for flash flooding in Illinois is at night.
- Flooding was a factor in 48 deaths across Illinois since 1995. This is more than the number of people killed by tornadoes during the same period. Most of these flood fatalities involved people in vehicles trying to cross flooded roads.
Before a Flood
- Know the terms used to describe flood threats:
Flood Watch: This means flooding or flash flooding is possible. Be extremely cautious when driving, especially at night. Listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or commercial television for additional information.
Flood Warning: This means flooding is occurring or will occur soon and is expected to occur for several days or weeks. If advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
Flash Flood Warning: This means a flash flood is occurring or is imminent. Many smartphones automatically receive flash flood warnings to alert you about flash flooding nearby, even if you are traveling. Flash flooding occurs very quickly, so take action immediately. NEVER drive across a flooded road, especially if the road is closed by barricades.
- Purchase a weather alert radio with a battery backup, a tone-alert feature and Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) technology that automatically alerts you when a watch or warning is issued for your county. Know the name of the county you live in and the counties you travel through.
- It is critical that someone at home, work or wherever people gather monitors weather
conditions, regardless of the time of day. Monitor watches, warnings and advisories in your area using a weather alert radio, cell phone app, local TV, local radio or the Internet. If it is safe to do so, contact family members and friends when you become aware of a flooding situation that may threaten them.
- Check the weather forecast before leaving for extended outdoor periods and postpone plans if flooding is imminent or occurring.
- Make sure family members and friends know how to stay safe.
- Maintain an emergency supply kit. This kit will help your family cope during extended power outages. See page 10 for information on assembling your kit.
- Keep all of your important records and documents in a safe deposit box or another safe place away from the premises.
- Insure your property and possessions. Make an inventory of your possessions using paper
lists, photographs and/or videotapes of your belongings. Give a copy to your insurance company. Update your inventory and review your coverage with your insurance company periodically.
- Consider purchasing flood insurance. Flood losses are not covered under homeowners
insurance policies. Flood insurance is available in most communities through the National
Flood Insurance Program. There is usually a period before it takes effect, so don’t delay.
Flood insurance is available whether the building is in or out of the identified flood-prone
area. Call your insurance company for more information.
- Know how to shut off electricity, gas and water at main switches and valves. Know where
gas pilots are located and how the heating system works.
- Have check valves installed in building sewer traps to prevent flood waters from backing
up in sewer drains. As a last resort, use large corks or stoppers to plug showers, tubs or basins.
- consider measures for flood proofing your home. Call your local building department or
emergency management agency for information.
Dryer Fire Safety Tips
Clothes dryer fire safety outreach materials
Facts about home clothes dryer fires
- 2,900 home clothes dryer fires are reported each year and cause an estimated 5 deaths, 100 injuries, and $35 million in property loss.
- The leading cause of home clothes dryer fires is failure to clean them (34 percent).
- More home clothes dryer fires occur in the fall and winter months, peaking in January.
Clothes dryer fire safety messages
It is important for community residents to know the steps they can take to stay safe from fire. Put these fire safety messages into your own words when talking to people about clothes dryer fire safety.
Clothes dryer do’s
- Have your clothes dryer installed by a professional.
- Make sure the correct electrical plug and outlet are used and that the dryer is connected properly.
- Read manufacturers' instructions and warnings in use and care manuals that come with new dryers.
- Clean the lint filter before and after each load of laundry. Don’t forget to clean the back of the dryer where lint can build up. In addition, clean the lint filter with a nylon brush at least every six months or more often if it becomes clogged.
- Clean lint out of the vent pipe every three months.
- Have your dryer cleaned regularly by a professional, especially if it is taking longer than normal for clothes to dry.
- Inspect the venting system behind the dryer to ensure it is not damaged or restricted.
- Put a covering on outside wall dampers to keep out rain, snow and dirt.
- Make sure the outdoor vent covering opens when the dryer is on.
- Replace coiled-wire foil or plastic venting with rigid, non-ribbed metal duct.
- Have gas-powered dryers inspected every year by a professional to ensure that the gas line and connection are together and free of leaks.
- Check regularly to make sure nests of small animals and insects are not blocking the outside vent.
- Keep the area around the clothes dryer free of items that can burn.
- If you will be away from home for an extended time, unplug or disconnect the dryer.
Clothes dryer don’ts
- Don’t use a clothes dryer without a lint filter or with a lint filter that is loose, damaged or clogged.
- Don’t overload the dryer.
- Don’t use a wire screen or cloth to cover the wall damper. They can collect lint and clog the dryer vent.
- Don’t dry anything containing foam, rubber or plastic. An example of an item not to place in a dryer is a bathroom rug with a rubber backing.
- Don’t dry any item for which manufacturers' instructions state “dry away from heat.”
- Don’t dry glass fiber materials (unless manufacturers' instructions allow).
- Don’t dry items that have come into contact with anything flammable like alcohol, cooking oils or gasoline. Dry them outdoors or in a well-ventilated room, away from heat.
- Don’t leave a clothes dryer running if you leave home or when you go to bed.
Emergency Safety Kit
EMERGENCY SAFETY KIT
A disaster of any kind may interfere with normal supplies of food, water, heat and other day-to-day necessities. It is important to keep a stock of emergency supplies on hand that will be sufficient to meet your family’s needs for at least a three-day period.
It is important to update your kit regularly. You should replace the water supply and any food that may have reached its use-by or expiration date. An easy way to remember is to use Daylight Savings Time, so that when you change your clocks, you also update your kits.
An emergency supply kit should include the following:
- A battery-powered radio, weather alert radio and flashlights, with extra batteries
- Bottled drinking water: one gallon per day per person with at least a three-day supply for each person in your household
- At least a three-day supply of canned or sealed foods that do not require refrigeration or cooking
- First-aid kit and manual
- Non-electric can opener and utility knife
- Mess kits or other basic eating and cooking utensils
- Paper towels, toilet paper, soap and detergent
- Household laundry bleach (unscented)
- A blanket or sleeping bag for each member of the family
- One change of clothing and footwear per person
- Fire extinguisher
- Shut-off wrench, to turn off household gas and water
- Signal flare, matches and whistle
- Cell phone and car charger
- An extra set of car keys, credit card and cash
- A list of family physicians
- Medications or special foods needed by family members, such as insulin, heart medication, dietetic food and baby food. Do not store these items in your kit for a long period of time but add at the last minute.
- If needed, formula, diapers and bottles
- Denture needs, extra eye glasses and contact lens supplies
- You can store additional water by filling bathtubs and sinks with water if an emergency is declared. Clean water is also available in toilet tanks, presuming chemicals and other cleaning agents are not used in the water tank.
If you have pets, include the following items in your kit:
- Identification collar and rabies tag
- Pet carrier or cage
- Newspaper, litter and trash bags for waste
- Two-week supply of food and water
- Veterinary records (necessary if your pet has to go to a shelter)
Lead poisoning occurs when lead builds up in the body, often over months or years. Even small amounts of lead can cause serious health problems. Children younger than 6 years are especially vulnerable to lead poisoning, which can severely affect mental and physical development. At very high levels, lead poisoning can be fatal.
Lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust in older buildings are the most common sources of lead poisoning in children. Other sources include contaminated air, water and soil. Adults who work with batteries, do home renovations or work in auto repair shops also might be exposed to lead.
There is treatment for lead poisoning, but taking some simple precautions can help protect you and your family from lead exposure before harm is done.
Lead-based paints for homes, children's toys and household furniture have been banned in the United States since 1978. But lead-based paint is still on walls and woodwork in many older homes and apartments. Most lead poisoning in children results from eating chips of deteriorating lead-based paint.
Water pipes and imported canned goods:
Lead pipes, brass plumbing fixtures and copper pipes soldered with lead can release lead particles into tap water. Lead solder in food cans, banned in the United States, is still used in some countries.
Although children are primarily at risk, lead poisoning is also dangerous for adults. Signs and symptoms in adults might include:
- High blood pressure
- Joint and muscle pain
- Difficulties with memory or concentration
- Abdominal pain
- Mood disorders
- Reduced sperm count and abnormal sperm
- Miscarriage, stillbirth or premature birth in pregnant women
For more information regarding lead poisoning please go to
June is National Safety Month
Injuries are a leading cause of disability for people of all ages – and they are the leading cause of death for Americans ages 1 to 44. But there are many things people can do to stay safe and prevent injuries.
Make a difference: Spread the word about ways to reduce the risk of injuries. Encourage communities, workplaces, families, and individuals to identify and report safety hazards.
How can National Safety Month make a difference?
We can all use this month to raise awareness about important safety issues like:
- Medication safety and prescription painkiller abuse
- Driving, biking, and working safely
- First aid and emergency preparedness
- Preventing slips, trips, and falls
Everyone can get involved in reducing the risk of injuries. Together, we can share information about steps people can take to protect themselves and others.
It May Not Look Like Much Water
It may not look like much water, but the cleanup could be way over your head!
A mop and common household cleaning products may not be enough for black water intrusions. Your local SERVPRO franchise professional is trained to safely clean and restore your customer's home, utilizing the following procedures:
- Identify the source/type of water
- Measure temperature and humidity for drying analysis
- Survey the extent of damage and inspect the premises
- Perform emergency water extraction
- Move and block furniture
- Provide floor service
- Inspect carpet pad/carpet and provide necessary service
- Apply necessary treatments such as deodorization
- Utilize drying equipment and monitor drying
- Dispose of refuse
Each SERVPRO franchise professional is trained and understands how to manage the drying process. By utilizing the proper equipment and moisture measuring devices, a structure is quickly and thoroughly dried, which helps prevent secondary water damages such as microbial growth and development.
No matter the size or type of damage, SERVPRO employees are constantly working together as a team to make water damages like they never even happened.
What to do Before, During, and After a power outage
We’re more vulnerable to power outages this time of year because of new growth and leaves that are still on the trees, which can pull branches down. Ready, a national public service advertising campaign, gives us these tips to follow before, during, and after a power outage.
- Build or restock your emergency preparedness kit, including a flashlight, batteries, cash, and first aid supplies.
- Make sure you have alternate charging methods for your phone or any device that requires power.
- Charge cell phones and any battery powered devices
- Know where the manual release lever of your electric garage door opener is located and how to operate it.
- Purchase ice or freeze water-filled plastic containers to help keep food cold during a temporary power outage.
- Keep your car’s gas tank full. Gas stations rely on electricity to power their pumps, if you use your car to re-charge devices, do NOT keep the car running in a garage, partially enclosed space, or close to a home, this can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Learn about the emergency plans that have been established in your area by visiting your state’s or local website so you can locate the closest cooling and warming shelters.
- If you rely on anything that is battery-operated or power dependent like a medical device, determine a back-up plan.
- Only use flashlights for emergency lighting, candles can cause fires.
- Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed. Most food requiring refrigeration can be kept safely in a closed refrigerator for several hours. An unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours.
- Put on layers of warm clothing if it is cold outside. Never burn charcoal for heating or cooking indoors. Never use your oven as a source of heat. If the power may be out for a prolonged period, plan to go to another location that has heat to keep warm.
- Turn off or disconnect appliances and other equipment in case of a momentary power “surge” that can damage computers and other devices. Consider adding surge protectors.
- If you are considering purchasing a generator for you home, consult an electrician or engineer before purchasing and installing.
- Only use generators away from your home and NEVER run a generator inside a home or garage, or connect it to your home’s electrical system.
- Throw away any food that has been exposed to temperatures 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) for 2 hours or more or that has an unusual odor, color, or texture. When in doubt, throw it out!
- If food in the freezer is colder than 40 degree Fahrenheit and has ice crystals on it, you can refreeze it
- Contact your doctor if you’re concerned about medications having spoiled.
- Restock your emergency kit with fresh batteries, canned foods, and other supplies.
May is National BBQ Month!
April showers have passed and barbecues are in full bloom. Perfect weather and longer days make the month of May the perfect time to celebrate National Barbecue Month. Whether you think barbecuing requires gas or charcoal, or that ribs should only be parboiled, or if you insist that asparagus must be sautéed with olive oil, it is time to fire up the BBQ.
Quality matters when it comes to barbecue. The graders at the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) certify that meats and other products are of a desired quality. Our grades account for factors such as tenderness, juiciness, and flavor. These are major selling points for any good barbecued foods. When shopping for meats, you can easily identify the USDA grade on most packages.
AMS also has information for people wanting to learn about where their food comes from. Our standards specialists develop marketing claims that provide insight on the animal’s diet, feeding and other factors. Our National Organic Program also has information for people interested in knowing what to expect when products are labeled with a USDA organic seal.
Whether your preference is conventional or organic meats, fruits, or vegetables, National Barbecue Month is a fun time to enjoy some of your favorite foods. Throughout this month and the rest of the grilling season, we encourage you to visit the Food Safety Inspection Service’s (FSIS) site for barbecue safety tips. They offer great advice that will take you from shopping at the super market to safely refrigerating leftovers—if there are any!
Save money and energy this spring and summer
Spring is here and before we know it, the hot summer will arrive! Below you will find ten inexpensive and practical steps you can take to save money and energy as things begin to heat up:
1.When cool nights allow, turn off the cooling system and open the windows while you sleep.
2.In the hot summer months, set your thermostat to a temperature as high as you can comfortably stand.
3.Use ceiling fans to cool the room that you are in and turn them off when you leave the room.
4.Use the exhaust fan in your bathroom to remove heat and humidity while you shower or bathe.
5.In the hotter summer months, grill outside as opposed to using the oven.
6.Make use of the natural lighting that is provided during the daylight hours.
7.When washing clothing or dishes, avoid washing partial loads, when possible.
8.Air dry clothing and dishes as possible.
9.Instead of taking a bath, take a short shower.
10.Turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120°F). You'll not only save energy; you'll avoid scalding your hands.
Put these strategies to work and being to enjoy the savings!
Floods, When water attacks
Floods are the most common natural disaster in the U.S., capable of striking almost any river, creek, lake or coast nationwide. They kill about 140 Americans each year and are often more destructive than the storms that caused them — water flowing at 10 mph exerts the same pressure on a structure as 270 mph wind gusts, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Across the country, floods destroy some $6 billion worth of property every year.
Overflowing rivers are behind most U.S. floods, but anything from tsunamis and hurricanes to broken dams and urban runoff can cause one. A single flood may fit multiple categories, but floods are generally classified as one of the following:
Most deaths and damage from floods are due to flash flooding — "a rapid and extreme flow of high water into a normally dry area, or a rapid rise in a stream or creek above a predetermined flood level," according to the National Weather Service. Flash floods develop suddenly, often in just a few minutes, and while they occur in all 50 states, they're most common in hilly areas with steep valleys, or along small waterways in urban environments. Their speed, depth and element of surprise make flash floods highly dangerous, causing major damage while allowing little time to prepare or evacuate. Heavy rains are the top cause of flash floods, but urban runoff, "ice jams," dam failures and other factors may also be involved.
Slow River Floods
Rising waters may spur flash floods in steep, narrow river basins, but in flatter, wider ones, flooding tends to be slow, shallow and long-lasting. Flat floodplains can remain inundated for days or even weeks, but these floods are at least usually easier to predict than flash floods. Spring snowmelt regularly swells northern rivers, and when big blocks of un melted ice are floating downstream, they can become lodged under bridges or in narrow passages, creating an "ice jam" that sets off a flash flood on top of the slower, pre-existing flood.
Storms and earthquakes are the two leading causes of ocean floods. Hurricanes push walls of sea water ashore when they hit land, creating a saline flash flood known as a "storm surge." Storm surges are often responsible for the majority of deaths from tropical cyclones, as was the case in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Despite hurricanes' strength, though, deep-sea earthquakes are capable of displacing even larger amounts of water, forming long-range waves called "tsunamis." Tsunamis can push floodwaters many miles inland, as seen after the 2004 Sumatran quake and the magnitude-9.0 temblor that hit Japan in March 2011.
Some floods attack from below, as the water table rises to the surface and washes away chunks of topsoil. This can cause a variety of ground failures, including "subsidence," or sinking soil, and "liquefaction," a process in which water-soaked sediment loses strength and acts like a liquid. Scientists also differentiate between "mud floods" — a liquid flood that carries up to 50 percent solid sediment loads — and "mudflows" — solid landslides where the downward flow is viscous enough to support large boulders within a wave of smaller particles. Mud floods and mudflows are most common in California and other Western states, since they tend to occur on hillsides burned bare by wildfire.
Most lakes experience fluctuating water levels, but they usually don't "flood" the way rivers do because lakes typically have outlet streams or rivers to help them drain. But not all lakes have such outlets, and these "closed-basin lakes" are prone to potentially catastrophic floods if their water level rises too high. Glacial lakes — which were carved and filled by glaciers, and make up most lakes in North America — are also at risk of drainage problems, and can undergo dramatic, long-term fluctuations in depth.
Opening the Flood Gates
While rain and snow cause most floods, they're also pawns of broader climatic trends that shape daily weather. Linking specific weather events to these trends is never easy, but climatologists can at least trace the origins of some recent U.S. flood problems to unusually heavy precipitation during preceding months.
The main rule for staying safe during a flood is to never willingly go near the water, whether on foot or in a car. Just six inches of moving water can knock people off their feet, so FEMA warns against walking through flowing floodwaters, and points out that since even apparently dry land could be subject to ground failure in a flood, it's not a bad idea to use a pole or stick to test the soil before stepping on it. The best place to be is high ground, but if you're in a building when floods arrive, go to the roof or the highest floor, but be careful not to get trapped in an attic or other confined space by rising water.
More than half of all deaths in floods happen when vehicles are swept away, usually in flash floods. Many of the drivers are overtaken before they can react, but people also frequently overestimate their ability to drive through flowing water, often with tragic results. NOAA's "Turn Around, Don't Drown" campaign is aimed at reducing these preventable deaths by raising awareness of how dangerous road flooding can be.
Electrocution is another dangerous side effect of flooding, one more reason to stay away from the water. Avoid and report any downed power lines and electrical wires, and consider turning off your home's electricity and checking around for gas leaks.
Infection and disease can be major problems during a flood as well as long afterward. While water levels are still high, an array of contaminants can be mixed in with the flood, ranging from untreated sewage to toxic chemicals. But even after the threat of water-borne bacteria and synthetic pollutants wanes, respiratory risks arise from black mold and other fungi that flourish in water-damaged wood and fabrics. Anything that got wet from flooding should either be thoroughly cleaned or thrown away.
For more flood advice, see FEMA's floodsmart.gov page, which has safety tips as well as information on the National Flood Insurance Program.