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Protecting your family during a flood
Floods can have a big impact on Albertans. You and your family can minimize your loss in a flood situation. Information is your best defence when emergencies occur. Contact your local director of disaster services or municipal government office to find out what emergency or disaster events could occur in your area. Ask what you should do to prepare.
The most important thing to do when considering any emergency is to develop an emergency plan. Learn more about your flood risks and incorporate that into your plan.
Create a flood plan• Know the warning systems your municipal government uses. Make sure you know what the signals mean, how they will be used, and what you should do when you hear it.
• Develop a family emergency plan. Include arrangements for family members with special needs in your plan (disabled and elderly who use special medical equipment).
• Make arrangements for your family pet(s) when planning. Contact your local disaster services office or your veterinarian for information.
• Plan how your family will stay in contact if separated during a disaster or emergency. Pick two meeting places. One location that is a safe distance from your home. The second place should be outside your neighbourhood in case you cannot return home.
• Choose a relative or friend who lives outside your municipality, as a check-in contact for everyone to call.
• Post emergency telephone numbers by every phone in your home.
• Teach children to call fire, police and emergency medical services and which local radio station to tune into for emergency information.
• Prepare an emergency kit for the home and each vehicle. Maintain the kits, replenish supplies, and make sure everyone knows where they are stored.
• Show family members how and when to shut off water, gas and electricity at the main switches.
• Learn your community’s evacuation routes; some hazards may force you to leave your home.
• Learn first aid and CPR.
• Meet with your neighbours and plan how you would work together in a disaster. Include neighbours with special needs in your planning. Contact your municipal administration to ensure that your plan is consistent with municipal actions.
Prepare to evacuate• Prepare a list of family members’ prescribed medications including generic names and prescribed dosage. Include the name and telephone numbers of your doctors. For those who rely on medical devices such as a pacemaker, list the style, serial number, and other pertinent information. Carry it with you at all times.
• Collect all vital family records and other irreplaceable items in one central location where they can easily be transported if you must leave the area quickly. Keep them in a waterproof and fireproof container.
• Ensure that you have a portable solar, hand wind-up, or battery-operated radio and spare batteries. Listen to the radio for flood advisories and warnings and follow instructions from your local government.
• Have a full tank of fuel in your vehicle. An electrical outage due to flooding may shut down service station pumps. If you don’t have personal transportation, make alternative arrangements with a neighbour.
• Stock up on food that requires little or no cooking or refrigeration. Gather emergency lighting and cooking supplies like flashlights, candles, camp stoves, spare batteries, fuel and waterproof matches. Ensure fuel is stored and handled properly. Keep this gear operational and within easy reach.
• Know how to use the manual override of your garage door. Have an emergency key release if your garage door is the only access and exit to your home. Perform a manual operation safety test regularly.
• Store water in clean containers. The water supply may be contaminated before it becomes necessary to evacuate.
• Decide what basic supplies your family requires and stock up immediately. Pack supplies in waterproof containers or plastic garbage bags. Essentials include:
• Warm clothing and waterproof rubber boots
• Rain coats
• Blankets or sleeping bags in sealed plastic bags
• Prescription medicines and first-aid supplies
• Personal identification for each family member (name tags and wallet cards)
• Towels, soap, personal hygiene and toiletry items
How can we protect our home in case of a flood?• Know where to obtain sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting and lumber
• Remove as many household items you can. If this is not possible, move possessions from the basement to an upper floor.
• Seal hazardous materials such as weed killers and insecticides in plastic garbage bags and move them into safe storage or dispose of them safely.
Electrical appliances• At the first warning of a flood, turn off electrical power and leave it off. If the basement is already wet, be cautious. If you are confident that you can do it safely, stand on a dry wooden chair or box and use a dry board or stick to turn off the main switch.
• Water usually ruins electrical motors. Move all portable electric heaters, power tools and electrical appliances to a safe place.
• If this isn’t possible, and if qualified to do so, consider removing the motors, controls and switches from furnaces, refrigerators and washers.
• If you can, consider moving all thermally insulated appliances such as freezers and refrigerators to upper floors of the house. This precaution should save you the expense of replacing them.
Gas-fired appliances• At the first warning of flooding, turn off all gas-fired appliances and put out the pilot light. Turn off the gas inlet valve to your home, which is located at the gas meter. This will prevent gas from escaping when the inlet valve is re-opened.
• Do not remove any gas-fired appliances without ensuring that the main gas inlet valve has been closed.
• There should be no smoking or open flames of any kind in the area. To avoid causing sparks, use a flashlight taped in the “on” position.
• For a forced air furnace, move the fan motor and fan to a dry storage place.
• Do not drain the hot water tank — it will serve as ballast to secure the tank in place.
• If gas appliances are removed, the gas outlets should be made tight using a plugged valve, a cap, or a plug on the piping system.
Plumbing• Remove any basement toilet bowls. Plug these outlets and all other basement outlets (floor drains, sinks, laundry drains) to prevent floodwater from entering.
• Use wooden plugs or beanbags and secure these outlets with plank braces nailed securely to floor joists.
Fuel tanks• Anchor propane tanks to keep them from moving, even if they are full.
• Turn off the tank valve.
• Disconnect the tubing and seal the end.
• Secure the tank with heavy rope or chain, something heavy enough to resist the force of floodwaters.
What to do during a flood• Listen to your radio. Important instructions for your safety and information on the situation will be broadcasted.
• If you are requested to leave the area, do so immediately and follow instructions issued by your municipal officials.
• Remember your neighbours, particularly the elderly. They may need your help or the assistance of municipal emergency services.
• Stay out of the flooded area until the municipal authority gives permission to return.
• Barricades are placed on roads for your protection. If you encounter a barricade, go another way.
• Avoid standing water. It may be electrically charged from ground or downed power lines.
• Do not attempt to drive over a flooded road. You could be stranded. Floodwaters can conceal debris or areas where the road has eroded. The ground underneath will probably be slippery.
• Watch for damaged roads, loose or downed wires and fallen objects on the road.
• Do not drive through water unless you are certain the road is safe and the water is no higher than the wheels of your vehicle. Proceed slowly to avoid splashing water on the engine and stalling it. When emerging from water, drive carefully because wet brakes do not work well.
• If your car stalls in rising waters, get out immediately and make your way to higher ground.
• Do not attempt to cross a flowing stream. You can be swept off your feet by only 15 centimeters (six inches) of moving water.
• Whether in a car or on foot, avoid areas prone to flash flooding.
• Do not phone the disaster services office, police or fire department unless you need help or are calling on behalf of others requiring assistance. Your radio will keep you informed.
• Do not attempt search and rescue operations on your own.