Our organization, BCFS Health and Human Services, is a national leader in emergency management and medical sheltering. We provide emergency support services to local, state, and federal governments, as well as residential and emergency shelter services. We’ve responded to multiple natural disasters, including floods.
Flooding is especially damaging for families due to the destruction of property and the potential dangers. To help prepare families for a flood emergency, we’ve leveraged our years of experience to create several tips and strategies for managing a flood and keeping your family safe.
A first step we recommend for handling a flood emergency is to examine the risks. Use resources such as the FEMA Flood Map Service Center to estimate your risks and create a plan for monitoring those risks, like checking NOAA radio station broadcasts during heavy rains or using online resources to stay ahead of the latest forecasts and potential problems. For example, if you live near a flood-prone river that frequently crests over its banks, then an impending downpour should give you some warning time to prepare or evacuate the area in advance as a precaution.
While you gather information about flood risks and understand how to stay updated, it’s time to prepare your household. Gather important documents, photos, hard drives, and other items that are essential if you must leave quickly. Place these together in your emergency “go bag” that includes your emergency items. These should include flashlights, blankets, drinkable water, snacks, extra medications, baby formula, cash, external charging batteries, personal hygiene items, and other essentials. You can also set aside flood-specific clothing such as waders and waterproof boots to help you navigate flood waters.
At BCFS Health and Human Services, we advise parents talk to their kids about emergency flood planning, especially the steps they’ll need to take if disaster strikes. Talk to kids at an age-appropriate level, giving greater responsibility to kids as they grow older. For example, a five-year-old can understand some of the aspects of a flood and might be able to carry a jacket, while a 16-year-old can be provided much more context and tasks that can help the entire family. Discuss with kids the procedures they should take during a flood. Empty your emergency bags so they understand how to use the various contents. Provide your kids with their own copy of your emergency contact list of family members or neighbors and enter this information into their cell phones if necessary. Try not to scare kids with these conversations, but make sure they know it’s a serious topic and that you expect them to try their best to listen and learn so you can all work together to overcome a disaster, should it ever strike.