NEW CUMBERLAND, Pennsylvania –
September is recognized as National Preparedness Month which serves as a reminder that we all must take action to prepare, now and throughout the year, for the types of emergencies that could affect us where we live, work, and also where we visit. This year’s theme is once again “Don’t wait, Communicate. Make Your Emergency Plan Today.”
According to the National Red Cross, floods are among the most frequent and costly natural disasters. Flooding is Pennsylvania's leading natural hazard, and flooding in the area can happen with little warning and at all times of the year.
Conditions that cause floods include heavy or steady rain for several hours or days that saturates the ground. Flash floods occur suddenly due to rapidly rising water along a stream or low-lying area.
It's important than in the event of flooding, you:
· Listen to area radio and television stations and a NOAA Weather Radio for possible flood warnings and reports of flooding in progress or other critical information from the National Weather Service (NWS).
· 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.
· Stay away from floodwaters. If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, stop, turn around and go another way. Six inches of swiftly moving water can sweep you off of your feet.
· If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
· Keep children out of the water. They are curious and often lack judgment about running water or contaminated water.
· Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood danger.
· Because standard homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flooding, it’s important to have protection from the floods associated with hurricanes, tropical storms, heavy rains and other conditions that impact the U.S. For more information on flood insurance, please visit the National Flood Insurance Program Web site at www.FloodSmart.gov.
Another important part of planning is ensuring you have enough the right supplies prepared. The following are some items to consider preparing ahead of time:
· Water—at least a 3-day supply; one gallon per person per day;
· Food—at least a 3-day supply of non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food;
· Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible);
· Extra batteries;
· First aid kit;
· Medications (7-day supply) and medical items (hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, cane);
· Multi-purpose tool;
· Sanitation and personal hygiene items;
· Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, deed/lease to home, birth certificates, insurance policies);
· Cell phone with chargers;
· Family and emergency contact information;
· Extra cash;
· Emergency blanket;
· Map(s) of the area;
· Baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers);
· Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowl);
· Tools/supplies for securing your home;
· Extra set of car keys and house keys;
· Extra clothing, hat and sturdy shoes;
· Rain gear;
· Insect repellent and sunscreen;
· Camera for photos of damage.
Lastly, there are many things that will need done after flooding occurs.
· Return home only when officials have declared the area safe.
· Before entering your home, look outside for loose power lines, damaged gas lines, foundation cracks or other damage.
· Parts of your home may be collapsed or damaged. Approach entrances carefully. See if porch roofs and overhangs have all their supports.
· Watch out for wild animals, especially poisonous snakes that may have come into your home with the floodwater.
· If you smell natural or propane gas or hear a hissing noise, leave immediately and call the fire department.
· If power lines are down outside your home, do not step in puddles or standing water.
· Keep children and pets away from hazardous sites and floodwater.
· Materials such as cleaning products, paint, batteries, contaminated fuel and damaged fuel containers are hazardous. Check with local authorities for assistance with disposal to avoid risk.
· During cleanup, wear protective clothing, including rubber gloves and rubber boots.
· Make sure your food and water are safe. Discard items that have come in contact with floodwater, including canned goods, water bottles, plastic utensils and baby bottle nipples. When in doubt, throw it out!
· Do not use water that could be contaminated to wash dishes, brush teeth, prepare food, wash hands, make ice or make baby formula.
· Contact your local or state public health department for specific recommendations for boiling or treating water in your area after a disaster as water may be contaminated.
Lastly, let your family know you’re safe. If your community experiences a flood, or any disaster, register on the American Red Cross Safe and Well Web site available through RedCross.org/SafeandWell to let your family and friends know about your welfare. If you don’t have Internet access, call 1-866-GET-INFO to register yourself and your family.
For more information on disaster and emergency preparedness, visit RedCross.org.