Protect Yourself During Flood Season

With winter winding down (finally!) – our thoughts are turning to spring and summer, and some of the damaging rain and storms that come with the changing seasons. Certain areas of the US are already seeing flooding from some of these storms, so we wanted to share some tips from the FEMA website for staying safe during a flood.

How to react if a flood is occurring near your home:

  • Listen to the radio or TV for information
  • Be aware of flash flooding, if there is a possibility of a flash flood, move immediately to higher ground
  • Be aware of streams, drainage channels, canyons, and other areas prone to flash flooding.

If you must evacuate, attempt the following:

  • Secure your home as much as possible. Bring outdoor items indoors, and move essential items to a higher floor
  • Turn off utilities and the main shutoff points. Disconnect as many electrical appliances as possible. Do NOT touch electrical equipment if you’re in standing water.
  • Do not walk through moving water. It only takes 6 inches of moving water to make you fall.
  • Use a stick or cane to check ground firmness where you are walking
  • Do not drive in flooded areas. Flood waters can sweep you and your vehicle away quickly

Driving in Flooded Areas

  • If you find yourself driving in flood conditions, be aware that only 6 inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars and can cause stalling
  • A foot of water will float many vehicles
  • Two feet of rushing water is enough to float away even heavy SUV’s and Trucks

We hope you never need to use these tips, but it pays to be aware of the dangers of flooding before they happen!

If you happen to have your own website or blog, you can add some cool widgets provided by FEMA by going to their site here and downloading them.

What should I do when my pipes freeze?

This is a topic that is very close to my heart – since last week I was awoken at 5:30am, after the coldest evening in nearly a decade in this area, to a very angry wife demanding to know why the shower wasn’t working.

I was immediately gripped by fear – what are we going to do? Are our pipes frozen? How do we prevent the pipes from bursting? What happens if they do? Do I have to go in to the CalCas office without a shower?

Prevention: An ounce of prevention here is worth a pound of cure. If you know it’s going to be very cold, leave your faucets open a very small amount to keep the water moving. Open your cabinets to expose plumbing to room temperature air. This will help prevent pipes from freezing…but what should you do when they DO freeze?

First – you should open your faucets, one at the very least. This is because as you heat up the pipes, it’s possible you’ll create steam. That steam needs a place to release to, especially since the expanding ice may already be stressing your plumbing.

Second – expose as many areas of plumbing as you can to warmed indoor air. Open up your cupboards and bathroom vanities (make sure you gather up any toxic materials if you have pets or little ones around the house).

Third – use a hairdryer or heat gun to warm the frozen pipes. Be very careful doing this, as even a hairdryer can get hot enough to cause burns. You can also try rubbing the pipes with a towel soaked in warm water.

You definitely want to be home when your pipes thaw because there’s always a chance a pipe has ruptured, which is something you can’t tell until the ice inside them has thawed.

You should also make yourself aware of the location of your main water shutoff valve and how to close it. If a pipe does burst, it can do a great deal of damage to your home very quickly.

Another question that is very important is “Does my homeowner’s/renter’s policy cover damage caused by frozen pipes.” The answer to that is, probably. However, coverage can vary from policy to policy and from state to state, so it’s vital you check your policy before anything happens!

For those that were concerned – a few minutes with a hairdryer got my pipes thawed, and, much to the relief of my coworkers here at CalCas, I was able to shower and make it in to the office.

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