Before buying a house (or during the design phase), do your research! Check around the lot and/or look at a reliable map to see if there are possible sources of flooding like open canals and rivers in the area.
Check the elevation of the lot. Some areas are natural catch basins, especially when it’s located at the bottom of a hill or mountain, a valley, or a river delta. If the lot is on a high elevation, however, also check if it is in the zone where the flood water flows down from the mountain, which still puts a flood risk on your home.
If the location is already a known flood zone, try these tips:
· Increase the elevation height of your ground floor based on the elevation of the road in front of the lot. The height increase of the ground floor will be dependent on two factors: the frequency of flooding in the area and the amount of flood water (how high) that a flood brings.
· Have a two-storey house. The average floor to floor height of a residence is about 3 meters, but in flood areas you may have to increase this so as to ensure safety for the occupants of the home in the event of a disaster. Also ensure that there is a way to exit the house from 2nd floor in case the ground floor is totally flooded.
If you have an existing house that you wish to flood-proof, remember that it is generally difficult to flood-proof a house since the event of flooding (no matter the scale) is a local or regional problem and not isolated to your house. The best plan is to fix your house in order to delay flood waters from entering long enough for you and your family to be able to evacuate to a safe area.
During a flood event, turn off all electrical items and the power panel as soon as possible to reduce the chance of electrocution. This can also reduce the damage to your electrical systems once the floods recede.
Flood water will enter the house from the door, windows, and any other entry points (such as pipes and drains) and should be the main points of concern during floods.
· Doors and windows, even when closed, usually have small gaps through which water can enter. Windows can have sealants applied to their edges while doors can be equipped with flood skirts (small rubber lining at the bottom of the door) to mitigate the entry of water and give time for the occupants to evacuate the house.
· Make sure that your home’s plumbing system has valves that can be closed in case the flood enters thru the piping system. Having one-way valves is the best way to stop water incursions into the house since these types of valves only allow passage of liquids in one direction.
If your home is already in a flood-prone area, renovate it to account for this reality.
· Replace construction finishes in your house with materials that are easy to clean and maintain but most importantly, do not absorb water. Ceramic or homogenous tiles for flooring instead of carpets are an example.
· Use furniture that can be easily cleaned. Avoid wooden furniture and upholstered items as they will become unusable once they get damaged by flood.