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Flood Safety Awareness week, why you should prepare in Wisconsin

Flood Safety Awareness week, why you should prepare in Wisconsin

February 26, 2024 11:52 AM CDT

By: Meteorologist Brittney Merlot

WAUSAU, Wis. (CIVIC MEDIA) – Flooding remains the most common natural disaster in Wisconsin, putting lives at risk and causing costly damage for property owners and local governments.

Spring-like weather has already sprung so it’s time to talk about flood safety awareness as Wisconsin’s Emergency Management reminds us about the dangers of flooding and what to do during and after a flood.

Spring of last year parts of the state saw historic flooding, which forced roads to close and put communities in danger.

ReadyWisconsin asks everyone to plan for the possibility that floodwaters will rise again.

Shiocton, Wisconsin spring flooding 2023.

To encourage everyone in the state to be prepared, Gov. Tony Evers has declared February 25th through March 2nd as Flood Safety Awareness Week in Wisconsin.

“Flooding remains the most common natural disaster in Wisconsin, putting lives at risk and causing costly damage for property owners and local governments,” said Wisconsin Emergency Management Administrator Greg Engle. “During Flood Safety Awareness Week, we encourage everyone to take time to assess their flood risk and learn how to protect themselves before, during, and after a flood.”

There were 79 people killed in the U.S. last year due to flooding and 81% of fatalities in Wisconsin happen when people entered flooded areas. Thankfully in our state, there were no flood related deaths here last year.

So far this year, there has been 7 deaths, all from walking or driving into flood waters.

Wolf River swells over its banks, putting docks underwater in Spring of 2023.

While you can’t always stop waters from rising, the following tips can help improve safety for you and your community before a flood:

  • Know your flood risk. Assess the potential for flooding on your property if you live in a flood plain, near a body of water, or have a basement. Plan with your family for what you will do if the floodwaters begin to rise.
  • Consider flood insurance. Most homeowner, rental, and business insurance policies generally do not cover flooding. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Most flood coverage requires 30 days to take effect. Find more information about flood insurance options at https://www.floodsmart.gov/.
  • Build a “Go Kit.” Include items such as food, water, cash, and medications. Have copies of important documents (personal identification like passports and birth certificates, medical records, insurance policies, and financial documents) in a waterproof container.
  • Make an emergency plan. If you can’t make it home or need to leave quickly, identify a meeting place for your family. Make a list of emergency numbers and important contacts.
  • Keep water out of and away from your house. Clean gutters regularly, direct downspouts away from your foundation, repair cracks in your foundation, improve grading so water flows away from your house, and cover window wells.
  • Move valuables out of the basement. Elevate or flood-proof your washer, dryer, water heater, and HVAC systems. Relocate electrical outlets to three feet above the floor.

Follow these tips during and after a flood:

  • Stay up to date on the forecast. Identify multiple ways to receive alerts about dangerous weather conditions and potential flooding, such as a NOAA Weather Radio, trusted local news outlets, and mobile weather apps.
  • Never drive or walk through flooded areas. Turn around, don’t drown! Just six inches of fast-moving water can sweep adults off their feet, while just 12 inches can carry away a small car or 24 inches for larger vehicles.
  • Take steps to protect your health:
    • Stay out of floodwaters, which can contain bacteria from human and animal waste, sharp objects, hazardous chemicals, downed power lines, and other dangerous items.
    • If your home floods, follow cleaning and disinfection guidelines to avoid mold growth.
    • If the power goes out for more than four hours, throw out refrigerated food or any food that came into contact with floodwater.
    • If your drinking water well is flooded, disinfect the well and test the water to make sure it’s safe before drinking it.
    • If you use a generator, keep it outside at least 20 feet from your home to avoid illness or death from carbon monoxide, which can occur in enclosed spaces.

Follow ReadyWisconsin on FacebookInstagram, and X for emergency preparedness tips throughout the year.

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