How to Keep Your Home from Being Flooded

Mother Nature can be fickle. You pray for a shower to water your gardens and wash your car, and she gives you a downpour of biblical proportions. All of that rain has to go somewhere. With any luck, it is swept through the sewer systems and out to the ocean. But sometimes storms generate so much rain that flooding occurs in low-lying areas. Rivers and creeks overflow their banks, and water floods into streets, yards, and basements. You can’t stop the rain. You can, however, take steps to keep your home dry and safe.

Image: travelers.com

Image: travelers.com

First, clear all of the drains on your property and on the street. These metal grates are magnets for rotting leaves and piles of garbage. All of that garbage clogs the drains and prevents water from escaping down to the sewer system. If the water cannot properly drain, it will pool around the street, your yard, and your home’s basement.

Inspect the drains once a week and remove all of the garbage stuck to the grate. It may not be a glamorous job, but it may prevent a flood in your front yard. There is one rule that governs floods – water will always run downhill. Since a basement is the lowest part of a home, it is often the first casualty of flooding.

Proper home maintenance can improve the odds of your basement staying dry during the next storm. First, inspect your home’s foundation for cracks; even the smallest fracture in the cement can be the source of a leak. Call in a professional to seal all cracks and ensure that your basement foundation is properly waterproofed. Next, pull out your level and place it on the ground outside your home.

The ground by your house should never be level; it should slope away from the foundation walls. If the ground is level, or if it slopes toward your home, water will be directed into your basement every time it rains. A professional landscaper can grade your property to ensure that the ground slopes away from your home. And always make sure that your gutters and down spouts are clear of debris.

If your home is in an area prone to flooding, it may be wise to have your own sandbags on hand. They are easy to make; simply pour sand into a bag, stopping when the bag is half-full. You can also use old pillowcases or garbage bags and garden soil as an alternative. Since sandbags are heavy to move during an emergency, keep them close to your house; garages and basements are perfect locations.

You should also store plastic sheeting with the sandbags. During a flood, you can cover the sandbags with the sheeting for added protection from the rising water. When your home is under the flood waters, it is too late to learn where the electricity shut-offs are located. Plan for a flood before one ever happens; this way, you will know what to do in an emergency. Make sure everyone in your family knows where the gas and electricity shut-offs are located, and teach everyone how to use them.

Call your insurance company and double-check that your policy is up-to-date. Take an inventory of all of your furniture and valuables, and decide what you will do with them when your home is under a flood warning. Will you move all of your furniture to an upper floor? Would you rather keep your jewelry in a waterproof safe in your home, or in a safety deposit box at a bank? Are all of your important documents stored in one place? Can you access them quickly in case you need to evacuate? No one wants to think about disasters, especially when the ground is dry and the skies are clear. But if you want to protect your furniture, your personal possessions, and your home, you need to be prepared for a flood.

Image by cnn.com

Image by cnn.com

Water is a destructive force that can damage homes beyond repair. While you may not do much about any kinds of natural disasters that occur every year (like the recent tornadoes and floods), at least by following the advice above, you will be ready to face a flooding and storm with more confidence and skill.

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