The chance of severe weather could lead to damages if you live in an area that is prone to flooding. You likely know this, and that’s why you keep a close eye on the weather.
If you live in a home that is a high risk for flooding, it’s your responsibility to know how best to control those risks. In the event of severe weather, keep your liabilities in mind.
Before Weather Strikes: Know your Risks
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) develops and adjusts national flood risk maps. Flood maps detail areas that are at risk of flooding to a hyper-local area. These maps help communities predict the effects and locations of flooding.
Flood maps generally categorize flood risks as high-, medium- and low-risk. Each home and location has an assigned amount of risk. Map developers use factors like elevation, proximity to water, annual precipitation and soil quality to determine flood risks.
Buying a High-Risk Home: Get Flood Insurance
The standard home insurance policy usually doesn’t come with flood coverage. Most homeowners have to buy a separate flood insurance policy to cover these risks. Flood insurance can cover property damage, losses and other liabilities associated with floods.
By law, most high-risk homeowners have to buy a certain level of flood insurance. FEMA’s flood maps, in conjunction with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), help determine the requirement for many homeowners. The NFIP helps homeowners who experience flood risks obtain private insurance coverage.
Constructing a Home with Lower Risks
By following guidelines, you can construct your home in a way that reduces flood risks. A variety of regulations mandate how to construct homes to reduce flood risks. By utilizing some or all these recommendations, you could prevent flooding.
- Plan to build the home on an elevated parcel of land. Many companies can construct artificial inclines on which to build the home.
- In some cases, homeowners can elevate flooring above the foundation of the homes. Therefore, if flooding does occur you might be able to reduce flood damages. Furthermore, some homeowners may also add flood openings around the foundation. These openings can sometimes allow floodwaters to pass under the home.
- If you live near a body of water, find out if there are artificial dams or levees around the area. Also learn who is responsible for maintaining these enclosures.
- On your property, maintain drainage ditches or streams. Ensure that they direct water away from the home at all times. You may have to periodically reconstruct these areas due to soil erosion.
You can visit FEMA's website to learn more about flood-safe construction mechanisms.
Reducing Risks to Your Home
If you live in a high-risk home, even flood insurance can’t eliminate the risk of a flood. If a flood does occur, you could lose your home or possessions to severe damages.
There are many maintenance tasks that you can undertake to make your flood risk even lower. By taking steps to reduce flood risks, you can also reduce the likelihood of a high flood insurance claim.
- Know how to protect your most valuable property in case of a flood risk. Should rising waters threaten, try to move your most valuable items out of the home or to an upper floor.
- Check around the home for loose pipes of leaks. Look for breaks inside and outside your home. Your water and sewage pipes all pose risks of breaks.
- When cold weather threatens, insulate your pipes to keep them from freezing. Freezing liquids expand, and in severe circumstances could cause the pipes to burst. You can insulate pipes by wrapping them or exposing them to stable sources of warm air.
- Clean out your gutters. Clogged drains can cause water to overflow your gutters and pool around your house. This could cause flooding.
- Make sure that your drainage pipes run away from the home, and empty in an area that does not let water accumulate.
- Ensure that your roof does not leak. This could easily endanger the structural integrity of your home. The average roof has a five to 10 year lifespan.
- Ensure that your basement and foundations have proper seals. When it rains, the seals can help keep water out of the home. You should check your seals annually, before a season of heavy rains set in.
- If imminent flooding threatens, an artificial levee may help direct water away from the home. You might be able to construct a barrier using sand bags or other deterrents.
The threat of flooding to a high-risk home can result in insurance risks and costs to the owner. By taking proper protections, you might be able to reduce the risks of financial losses to your home.