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.