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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Disaster Mitigation - Floods

Floods are widely considered the second most common disaster related expense on insured property.  There are several scenarios that can lead to flooding such as severe rain storms, hurricanes, melting snow, and damaged dams or levees.  If you live in a flood zone, there are several things you can do to help prevent damage from flood waters.
First, have your electrical entrance moved from the basement to the first floor.  Install GFCI circuits on lower levels, these will protect themselves at the first sign of water by tripping the breaker.  There are two ways to install GFCI protection.  The first is to install GFCI outlets, these will cut power to themselves when a ground fault is detected, however, power will remain live in the wires leading to them.  The second is to have GFCI breakers installed in the main panel.  They will trip the same way as the outlets, but will cut power to the entire circuit from the panel.
Move any appliances out of your basement, have washers & dryers installed on upper floors.  HVAC units can also be installed in attics.  If you have a furnace that must be left in the basement, try having it raised off the floor, and above the normal flood line.
Build barriers and landscape your property so as to help hold back flood waters.  Waterproof foundation walls and install a sump pump that will evacuate water well away from the house.  You can also have check valves installed in drains to prevent water from backing up from the sewer system.
Above all, keep valuables out of the basement.  Family heirlooms and precious possessions are best stored in the attic or upper floors.  Be aware of typical flood seasons for your area and double check your property before the season begins.

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