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Prepare for possible flooding now

Posted 2/21/2017

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Street drainage ditches are overtaken by excessive amounts of rainwater at Topsy Lane and Lyla Lane in Carson City, Nev., Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017. Photo by Wendy Hanson, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.

What to do before, during and after a flood

With flooding likely in parts of northern Nevada this weekend, residents are encouraged to familiarize themselves with what to do before, during and after a flood. The best local resource for information on flooding is the Nevada Floods website. Residents are encouraged to visit the website now, but here is some basic information.

Terminology: A flood watch means that flooding is possible in your area. You should be prepared to move to higher ground upon short notice. A flood warning means a flood is occurring or is about to occur. If advised to evacuate, do so immediately.

When to leave your home: If the danger is significant, local authorities may issue an evacuation notice to alert residents that flooding will be or is occurring, and it is important to leave the area. Evacuation orders vary by community and state, and may range from voluntary to mandatory. When authorities issue a mandatory evacuation notice, leave the area immediately. If you have pets, take them with you. If you cannot take them with you, arrange to board them at a facility well away from flood danger. Keep in mind the Five Ps of Evacuation: people, prescriptions, paper, personal needs and priceless items

Before a flood:
Gather items you will need to bring with you if evacuation is needed:

  • Water: At least a three-day supply (one gallon per person per day and extra if you have pets)
  • Food: At least a three-day supply of nonperishable, easy to prepare foods
  • Medications: At least a seven-day supply
  • Medical items: Hearing aids and batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, canes or other walking assistance tools, items for people with disabilities
  • First-aid kit
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Rubber boots and rubber gloves
  • Copies of personal documents (medication lists, important medical information, deed/lease to home, birth and/or marriage certificates, insurance policies, etc.)
  • Cell phones and chargers
  • Family and emergency contact information
  • Extra cash
  • Extra blankets, clothing, shoes
  • Baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers)
  • Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, water, carrier, bowl, blankets, toys)
  • Extra sets of vehicle and house keys
  • Priceless items or valuables
  • Rain gear
  • Camera for photos of damage
  • A NOAA weather radio that receives broadcast alerts directly from the National Weather Service
During a flood:
  • Listen to the TV and/or radio for flood warnings and reports of flooding.
  • Check websites (for example, the National Weather Service).
  • Be prepared in case there is a power outage. Have electronic devices charged.
  • Take advantage of sandbags if your home/business is in a flood-prone area. Be prepared, as these take longer to fill than you might think. See this Sandbagging Techniques video for information about how to fill and place sandbags.
  • If you have a basement, make sure your sump pump is working. Consider a backup battery-operated one if necessary.
  • Clear debris from gutters or downspouts.
  • Cautiously clear small items out of waterways. Anything bigger than a tumbleweed should be removed by an emergency service person.
  • Anchor any fuel tanks and outdoor furniture.
  • Move important documents and valuables to a safe place.
  • Be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice.
  • When a flood or flash flood warning is issued for your area, head for higher ground and stay there.
  • Do not try to walk in floodwaters. Just 6 inches of water is enough to knock you down.
  • Do not try to cross a flooded road. Turn around and find an alternative route. Most cars can be swept away by less than 2 feet of water.
  • Keep children out of the water.
  • Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize potential dangers.
  • Know your evacuation routes (several may need to be identified) and have a place to stay.
  • Ensure your vehicle has a full tank of gas and is ready to go if you need to leave an area quickly.
  • If you do not have a place to go, contact the city for locations of evacuation shelters.
  • Establish a communication plan with family. Determine ahead of time where you will meet or go if you should get separated.
  • Use text messaging or social media to let friends and family know you are safe.
  • If you should happen to get trapped in a building, vehicle or outdoors during a flood, get to the highest spot you can and try to signal or call for help.
After a flood:
  • Only return home when officials have declared the area safe.
  • Shut off utilities until it can be determined that they do not pose a risk.
  • Use flashlights, not lanterns, torches, or matches, to examine buildings, as open flames may cause a fire or explosion if gases have been leaking.
  • Before entering your home, look for loose power lines, damaged gas lines, foundation cracks or other damage.
  • If you smell natural or propane gas or hear a hissing noise, leave immediately and call the fire department.
  • If parts of your home are collapsed or damaged, approach carefully.
  • During cleanup, wear protective clothing, rubber gloves and rubber boots.
  • Be especially cautious of mold, asbestos and lead paint contamination.
  • If food or water have come into contact with floodwater, discard these items.
  • Work with your insurance company if you have flood insurance.
  • Let people know you are safe.

This information has come from the Red Cross, FEMA, the National Weather Service and University of Nevada, Reno, and was written by Lindsay Chichester, Carson City Extension Educator at University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.

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