Floods are among the most frequent and costly natural disasters. 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.
The American Red Cross has tips to help the clean-up and recovery when the water recedes:
· 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!
· Contact your local or state public health department to see if your water supply might be contaminated. You may need to boil or treat it before use. Do not use water that could be contaminated to wash dishes, brush teeth, prepare food, wash hands, make ice or make baby formula.