Avoiding Life’s Storms: 8 Tips for Preventing Flood Damage

January 13, 2019

Flooding is the top natural disaster in the U.S., causing more than $3.5 billion in damages each year. While the best way to avoid flood damage is to stay above water, this isn’t always possible for your home and belongings.

If you are in a flood-prone area, one of the best things you can do is be prepared. While having flood insurance is essential, you also have to take other steps to safeguard your home and belongings.

Use the tips and information here to help safeguard your home from rising waters, reducing damages and giving you more peace of mind.

1. Know Your Flood Risk

You can contact your floodplain management office, building department or emergency management office for more information about how likely your area is to experience flood damage. It’s smart to request a flood map for your community.

If you are unable to contact someone locally for this information, then you can rely on the reference guide provided by FEMA.

Once you know your flood risk, it’s time to start preparing for the water.

2. Safeguard Your Climate Systems and In-Home Electrical System

Wiring, circuit breakers, sockets, and switches all need to be positioned at least a foot above the expected flood level in the area. Before floods arise, it’s a good idea to modify your water heater, furnace, and other anchored equipment inside so it’s higher than the expected flood water.

3. Check on Your Sump Pump

Take some time to clean out your sump pump and the pit. You also need to test the pump by putting water into the pit. It may be a good idea to install another submersible portable sump pump when flooding is expected.

Be sure the discharge hose for this delivers the water several feet from your house to an area that’s well-drained and that slopes away from your home. If you have a hose outlet that’s too close to the foundation of your home or located on flat ground, the water may just recycle down through your house drain tile.

Make sure you don’t run your sump pump water into any rural septic system, since the water may wind up saturating the drain field. Also, in cities, if you run your sump pump water into a sanitary system, it can overload the system. If this happens, it may result in sewage backup, not to mention it could be illegal.

4. Elevate and Anchor Your Outdoor Equipment

Generators, air-conditioning units, and fuel tanks need to be raised above flood level and anchored. If you fuel tanks aren’t anchored, they may break free and a severed supply line can contaminate the ground.

If they remain on the ground, serious consequences may occur.

5. Move Your Valuable Items to a Higher Location

Make sure that you move anything that is irreplaceable to higher ground. This includes things such as household inventories, insurance policies, tax records, personal videotapes, yearbooks and family photos to higher locations. If possible, put them in the attic.

If you have time, consider making copies of all these items. Once you do this, store them in a location that isn’t prone to flooding.

6. Modify Your Water Valves

If the sewer system is flooded, it can result in sewage backing up into your home. As a result, it’s a good idea to install an exterior or interior backflow valve.

A gate valve is a smart option. These are more complex, and they are operated by hand. However, they offer a much stronger seal than the check or flap valve. Thee open automatically to allow water to move out and then close if it tries to get in.

Make sure to install these on all the pipes that are entering into the house.

7. Shut Off the Electricity to Any Part of the Home that’s Prone to Flooding

Even in situations where the flood water doesn’t reach your electrical outlets, the risk of an electrical shock to someone in a flooded basement is present. This is because of the electric motors in dryers, washers, freezers, furnaces and other appliances are running.

To prevent the possibility of an electrical shock, shut off the electrical breakers and unscrew all fuses. Also, don’t stand in water while you are turning off the electrical switches. If this has to be done, use a piece of plastic or dry wood to do the switching.

If the flood water is getting closer to the electrical entrance box, then be sure to call your power supplier and have the electrical supply to your home disconnected. If the floor has gotten damp, but it isn’t flooded, then ground fault circuit interrupters can help to reduce the risk of using electricity in your home.

8. Take Last Minute Steps as the Water Rises to Prevent Flood Damage

As the flood waters get closer, you should take a few additional steps to help safeguard your home. Some of these steps include:

  • Elevate your major appliances on concrete blocks
  • Clear your downspouts, drains, and gutters
  • Shut the electricity off at the breaker panel
  • Move all your belongings to higher ground

By doing this, you can help to prevent damage to your belongings.

Keep Your Home Flood Damage Free with These Tips

Unfortunately, millions of people, all over the country have to deal with flood damage each year. If you want to prevent at least some of the damages that rising water causes, then be sure to use the tips found here.

If you want to further protect your home from flood damage, then contact us to learn about flood damage insurance policies. These can safeguard your home when waters rise.

Being informed is the best way to ensure your home and belongings are protected, regardless of how high waters get.


**This blog provides a brief overview of the terms and phrases used within the insurance industry. These definitions are not applicable in all states or for all insurance and financial products. This is not an insurance contract. Other terms, conditions and exclusions apply. Please read your official policy for full details about coverage. These definitions do not alter or modify the terms of any insurance contract.