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First, determine "What's Your Number?" by learning the flood stage at the stream gage nearest you. This information is available through the National Weather Service's Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Services website.
Then, determine the level at which floodwaters begin to affect your property. This step may take research or personal experience to determine, such as talking to neighbors to find out how high the river was during recent floods, and at what point flooding began in your neighborhood. Each neighborhood and each property has its own unique terrain and placement to consider when determining this factor, and it is safest to err on the side of caution.
Preparing your household for a flood involves steps that will improve your readiness for many different types of disasters. Give yourself plenty of time to evacuate by developing an emergency kit including first aid supplies, a three-day supply of non-perishable food, bottled water, a battery-powered radio, flashlights and extra batteries. Also, have personal items ready like rubber boots, a rain jacket, warm clothes and hygiene and sanitation products.
Contact your local emergency management office to find out how your community notifies residents of floods and how it will issue evacuation orders. Make a commitment to follow evacuation orders the first time to help prevent emergency personnel from having to return to the affected area for a rescue when travel is no longer safe.
Research indicates the majority of flood-related fatalities occur when cars become trapped on roads that are known to flood. To prevent this, follow instructions from emergency personnel and before a flood happens talk to neighbors, emergency personnel and others to determine when and where flooding typically occurs on access roads leading to your home. Know what roads you regularly travel and whether or not they will flood, and plan alternate routes when needed.
Research the flood-proofing options available to you. Can you install a quick-disconnect furnace, or elevate electrical and mechanical equipment? Are there steps you can take to alleviate pressure on your structure and to prevent extensive damage to doors and windows if flooding does occur? View additional information about protecting your property from floods.
Before a flood or other emergency strikes, designate a safe place away from your home where your family members can all meet. Make sure that all family members know the location, you have a plan for contacting each other, and you have an emergency kit ready to take with you. In addition, it is important to know whether your child's school or family members' work place is in a flood zone. If so, what provisions are in place to ensure their safety?
Floods are among the most frequent and costly natural disasters. For information on keeping your family safe before, during and after a flood, please visit the Michigan Committee for Severe Weather Awareness website.