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Flooding Tips as Spring Thaw Nears


ALLEGAN, MI (WHTC) - As the thaw from a long and harsh winter nears, the Allegan County Office of Emergency Management has issued some tips and links to deal with flooding issues.

Flooding Tips: http://www.ready.gov/floods 

If you live in a high flood risk area, personal preparation is the key to avoiding disaster. Take solid steps ahead of time to ensure the safety of your family and minimize property loss, even when the flood waters come lapping at  your doorstep. For the latest updates on weather conditions please contact Allegan County Public Safety Hotline at  269-686-4570 or visit the web site at http://www.allegancounty.org/Government/EMD/Index.asp?pt=.

By following this list of flood safety tips, your family and home will be ready when waters begin to rise:

1. Following a flood, there may be power outages that could last for several days or even weeks. Stay tuned to local TV and radio for constant updates on the weather forecast, flood level, and watches and warnings. Take all advice and warnings seriously. 

2. Form a family emergency/evacuation plan, refer to http://www.ready.gov/make-a-plan. Make sure  everyone knows where to go in the event of a flood warning. Make a list of those places you could go such as family or friends, shelters or other safe public buildings on higher ground. Provide each family member with a written list of the locations and phone numbers, preferably in order, from first to last resort. 

3. Put together an emergency supply kit including battery-powered flashlights and radio, extra batteries, first aid kit and medications, hand sanitizers, rain gear and warm clothing, sleeping bags or bedding, and any other personal items you must have for health and safety. 

4. Store at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food and bottled water. You will need one gallon of water per person per day, for drinking and sanitation. Stock canned foods, dry mixes and other staples that do not require refrigeration, cooking, water or special preparation. Be sure to include a manual can opener and eating utensils with your food supplies. 

5. Contact your local fire department for sandbags. You will be required to purchase your own sand and fill your own bags. 

6. Watch the Army Corp of Engineers video at SANDBAG on how to build a sandbag levee. 

7. Sandbag around ground level windows, and doors. 

8. Sandbag around well heads to protect your water source. 

9. Secure propane or chemical storage tanks. 

10. Check with your home owners insurance company prior to an event and see if your have proper coverage if your sump pump or storm sewer fails. 

11. Check your sump pump and make sure it’s operational. If you can afford to do so, have a back-up sump pump ready to replace one that has failed. 

12. Move what furniture and valuables you can to the highest floor of the house, or in single story homes, raise them off of the ground as much as possible. Do this at the onset of a flood watch. 

13. Evacuate to higher ground as soon as a flood warning is issued. Follow your family evacuation plan while avoiding waterways at all costs. Do not drive into standing water and abandon your car immediately if it does stall in water. Search for high, dry ground, and get there as quickly as possible.

Public Health guidance during excessive run-off and flooding: 

1. With the excessive snow melting and run-off and the potential for flooding, the waters may contain livestock waste from agricultural land and overflow from residential sewage systems. Bacteria found in these wastes can cause waterborne illnesses. There is risk of disease from eating or drinking anything contaminated with floodwater including fish. The public should avoid any contact with surface water due to the potential for high bacteria levels. If exposed, you should wash thoroughly to remove any potential contaminants. 

2. Any water wells that have been submerged in floodwaters should, at the earliest opportunity, be evaluated by the health department and chlorinated by a licensed well driller to help insure that any bacteria that may have entered the well have been effectively destroyed. Follow-up water samples should be collected on those water supplies to ensure that the water is safe to drink. 

3. Consider what you can do ahead of time to store your food safely in an emergency. If you live in a location that could be affected by a flood, plan your food storage on shelves that will be safely out of the way of contaminated water. Do not eat or drink food contaminated with flood water! 

4. Digital, dial, or instant-read food thermometers and appliance thermometers will help you know if the food is at safe temperatures. Keep appliance thermometers in the refrigerator and freezer at all times. When the power is out, an appliance thermometer will indicate the temperature in the refrigerator and freezer. The refrigerator temperature should be 40 °F or below; the freezer, 0 °F or lower. If you are not sure a particular food has been kept cold enough, do not eat it. 

5. During a power outage, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature. The refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened. A full freezer will hold the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half-full) if the door remains closed.  

6. Obtain dry or block ice to keep your refrigerator as cold as possible if the power is going to be out for a prolonged period. Continually monitor that temperature with a thermometer, if the temperature rises above 40 °F, discard the food. Plan ahead and know where dry ice and block ice can be purchased. Fifty pounds of dry ice might hold a safe temperature for an 18-cubic foot full freezer for 2 days. Monitor the freezer with thermometer, if the temperature is above 0 °F, discard the food. 

7. Remember to frequently wash your hands with soap and clean water! If clean water is not available, use hand sanitizer. Wash your hands often, especially before preparing food, before eating, after using the toilet, and after cleaning. Washing your hands will help prevent sickness.