BEFORE THE FLOOD
- Have a battery-powered radio in working order, with spare batteries, and listen to instructions from your local stations for weather and flood announcements.
- Have an emergency survival kit handy that includes food, water and medical supplies in an easy-to-carry container. Some other suggestions to be included are:
- Flashlight with spare batteries
- Warm clothing, including waterproof outer garments and footwear
- Necessary medication
- Infant care items for your children
- Personal toiletries
- Identification for each member of your household
- Important personal and family documents
- Pets should not be taken to an emergency shelter, so have prior arrangements for your pet to go to the home of a friend or a relative that can care for them. Have an emergency kit, which includes additional pet food.
- Move furniture, essential items and other belongings to upper floors above ground level if there is enough warning.
- If time permits, disconnect and move electrical appliances, but do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.
- Remove such toxic substances as pesticides and insecticides from the immediate area to prevent pollution and extensive clean up later.
- Disconnect eaves troughs if they are connected to the house sewer.
- Remove toilet bowls, and plug basement sewer drains and toilet connections with a wooden plug.
- If you have time, bring outdoor garden equipment and lawn furniture inside or tie it down in flood areas.
- When there is immediate danger of flooding, shut off the main breaker in your home.
- Special precautions should be taken to safeguard or minimize damage to electrical, natural gas or propane heating equipment. If there is enough warning time, consult your supplier for instructions or for service on how to proceed.
Sand Bag Protection:
In some cases, homes may be protected using sandbags or polyethylene barriers. This approach, however, requires specific instructions that must be followed.
- Do not stack sandbags against the outside walls of your house. Water suddenly seeping downward can create pressure, causing walls or floor to buckle. When deep flooding is likely, permitting the floodwaters to flow freely into the basement of your home will help avoid structural damage to the foundation and the house by equalizing the water pressure with the outside of the basement walls and floors.
SAND BAG DIKE CROSS SECTIONS DETAIL
NOTE: Bottom Layer of Sand Bags Shall Be Placed With The Longest Dimension Parallel To The Direction Of The Dike and The Next Layer Perpendicular and So On.
DURING A FLOOD
- Listen for information and instructions from your local radio or television newscast.
- Stay away from floodwaters, which can be contaminated.
- Stay away from low-lying or flooded-prone areas and avoid walking through moving water. Six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet. Even very small streams, gullies, creeks, culverts, or dry streambeds that appear harmless in dry weather can flood. If you have no choice but to walk in a flooded area, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
- Do not drive into flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground, if you can do so safely. You and your vehicle can quickly be swept away as floodwaters rise.
- If you have a broken sewer and or water mains, advise the authorities if you can by calling Sarnia City Hall and after hours by calling the Sarnia Police Service.
- If you have contaminated floodwater in the basement for extended periods of time, disinfect every three days if the flood is severe and the house is occupied. For the average home, mix two litres of liquid bleach into the flooded water.
- Vacate your home when you are advised to do so by local emergency authorities. Ignoring such a warning could jeopardize the safety of your family or those who might eventually have to come to rescue you.
- Follow the routes specified by the officials. Don’t take shortcuts. A shortcut could take you to a blocked or dangerous area.
- If time allows, leave a note informing others when you left and where you went. If you have a mailbox. Leave the note there. (Remember to take your emergency survival kit with you.
- Make arrangements for your pets.
- If you evacuate or need to go to an emergency reception centre, register with the centre so that you can be contacted and reunited with your loved ones. Remember to keep your car gas tank at least half-full at all times.
- Try to keep to the main roads and drive with caution, measuring your speed to road and weather conditions.
- Avoid passing another vehicle if possible, when weather and road conditions are poor.
AFTER THE FLOOD
- Stay away from disaster areas unless local authorities requests volunteers. If you are needed, bring your own drinking water, food, and sleeping gear. Another way to help is to donate money to a recognized disaster relief organization. Do not donate food, clothing, or other personal items unless they are specifically requested.
- Stay away from flooded areas they may be contaminated by gasoline, oil, or raw sewage. Underground or downed power lines may have caused the water to be electrically charged.
- Drive only if necessary as some roads may have been weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car.
- Encourage your children to express their feelings. Comfort and reassure your child. Share with your child what information you know about the situation, be honest but gentle and supportive. In situations like this it’s important for the whole family to stay together, one of a child’s biggest fears is that they will be separated from their family. Following a disaster, many adults and children sleep poorly, have no appetite, are apathetic and some are angry over the loss of family belongings. Grieving is a normal process.
- Exercise caution when re-entering your home. Avoid electrical shock by wearing rubber boots in water. Watch out for any extension cords or any live power in the flooded area. If you have any doubts about safety, have your home inspected by a professional before entering or consult with your local electrical utility if you require assistance. Look for buckled walls or floors.
- Do not turn on the electricity until a qualified electrician has checked the circuits. Moisture may still be trapped within the electrical boxes, receptacles, motors and switches.
- Contact your insurance agent. If your policy covers your situation, an adjuster will be assigned to visit your home. Take photos of and / or videotape the damage.
- Locate your financial records and keep detailed records of all your cleanup costs.
- Do not occupy a house that contains standing water.
First Steps in Clean-up:
- Immediately add about 2 litres of chlorine bleach to standing water.
- Use protective gear i.e. rubber gloves, rubber boots and face masks when cleaning up flooded areas. Once the clean up process is over, make sure that all parts of the body that have had contact with the flooded waters or contaminated articles are washed.
- Flooded basements should be drained and cleared after floodwaters have subsided. If your basement is full of water drain the water in stages, about a third of the volume of water per day. If the ground is still saturated and you drain the water too quickly it can cause wall failures or other permanent structural damage to your home.
- Use pumps or pails to remove standing water, followed by a wet / dry vacuum to mop up the rest.
- For instructions on how to disinfect and restore wells and cisterns, contact our local Community Health Services Department.
- Remove all soaked and dirty materials and debris. Remove residual mud and soil, furniture, appliances, clothing and bedding. Discard these items if they cannot be disinfected. Soaked mattresses, box springs, stuffed toys, pillows, as well as furniture coverings, padding and cushions are harder to disinfect and should be disposed of and replaced. Small refuse should be collected and placed in plastic bags for removal on regular garbage pick-up day. Larger items should also be removed at this time. Discarded items should not be left accessible to persons who may try to salvage them. Articles left for garbage pick up should be labeled: “DANGER – DISCARDEED FLOOD ITEM – DO NOT SALVAGE”
- Hose down any dirt sticking to walls and solid-wood furniture. Then rinse several times. Wash and wipe down all surfaces and structure that can be with chlorine bleach, ensuring there is adequate cross ventilation to remove fumes. Then rinse again. Wear a charcoal respirator (which can be obtained at major safety supply or hardware stores) when using bleach in any closed space. Wipe down surfaces that have not been directly flooded-affected using a solution of one part chlorine bleach to four parts cold or tepid water, mixed with a small amount of non-ammonia dishwashing detergent. Then rinse. (Note: NEVER mix bleach with ammonia since the fumes produce together are toxic.)
- You may need to break out walls and remove drywall, wood paneling and insulation at least 500 mm (20 in.) above the high-water line and replace.
- Ventilate or dehumidify the house until it is completely dry. Tape clear food wrap to sections of material. If these sections are still damp inside, they will turn darker than the surrounding material. Continue to dry until this does not occur.
- Clean all interior walls and floor cavities with a solution of water, chlorine bleach and non-ammonia dishwashing detergent and dry thoroughly.
- Rinse, and then clean all floors as quickly as possible. Replace flooring that has been deeply penetrated by floodwater or sewage. Carpets must be dried within two days. For large areas, you may want to hire a qualified professional to do the job. Carpets soaked with sewage must be discarded immediately.
- Flush and disinfect floor drains and sump pumps using undiluted chlorine bleach. Scrub to remove any grime or greasy dirt. If footing drains outside the foundation are clogged, consult a professional for advice or service.
- If regular checks reveal mould, kill it with chlorine bleach. Remember mould can lead to serious health problems.
- Do not heat the home to more than 4 degrees Celsius (about 40 degrees Fahrenheit) until all water is removed. A better choice is not to use central air conditioning units and furnaces units until the basement is restored for occupancy since air borne contaminants could be dispersed throughout the house.
- If you use gasoline-, kerosene- or propane- powered pumps or heaters, buy and install a carbon monoxide sensor. Combustion devices can produce large amounts of lethal carbon monoxide when not in proper working order or improperly ventilated.
- Replace filters and insulation inside furnaces, water heaters, refrigerators and freezers if they have been wet. It may be cheaper just to replace some equipment. Flooded forced-air heating ducts and return-duct pans should either be cleaned or replaced.
- Any food items exposed to flood waters should be disposed of.
- Canned food should be closely checked for “leaks’ and “swells”. Particular attention should be paid to seams and signs of corrosion and to home prepared fruits in jars and sealers. Do not eat any foods that look or smell abnormal, even if the can looks okay. Any food that can be washed should be washed thoroughly and immersed in a chlorine/water solution of 5 oz. of bleach/1 gallon water or 128 ml of bleach/4 L water for 15 minutes. The area under the seal of jars and bottles cannot be properly disinfected and should be disposed of to be on the safe side.
- Foods, which have been wrapped in moisture-proof material, should be examined for breaks in the wrapper. If the wrapper is leaking or has been broken, dispose of the food.
- If the electricity has been off to your refrigerator for more than 8 hours or the floodwaters have risen above the door opening dispose of the contents. (Remember that if the refrigerator has been open frequently there is a greater chance that the contents are bad and should be disposed of.
- Dispose of all food products in the freezer if floodwaters entered the freezer unit.
- If in doubt – throw it out! Anything that stays wet long enough will grow mould, and mould can make people sick. (For further information on Health issues contact Environmental Health & Prevention Services at the Community Health Services Department.
- Consult with your local authorities immediately if you suspect water contamination immediately. Call the Community Health Services Department.
- You may need to purchase bottled water.
- One method of Water Purification is boiling your water. Bring water to a rolling boil for 10 minutes. Let the water cool before drinking. Boiled water will taste better if you put oxygen back into it by pouring it back and forth between two clean containers. For more information contact your Community Health Services Department.