Important Flood Safety From MEMA
MA Flood Hotline: 1-800-293-4031
NH Flood Hotline: 1-800-852-3792
The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency has issued the following guidelines to keep you and your family safe during times of flooding. They include the obvious, like avoiding downed power lines, and the not-so-obvious, like sanitizing your well water.
MONITOR STREAM AND URBAN STREET FLOODING – For those living in areas that are prone to localized flooding, particularly this time of year, closely watch small streams and low-lying areas for early flooding. Make sure street catch basins are cleared.
ENSURE YOUR HOME IS READY – Minimize damage from basement flooding by elevating utilities, and materials that could be damaged by limited basement flooding.
HEED EVACUATION REQUESTS – Follow recommended evacuation routes, shortcuts may be blocked or dangerous.
DO NOT WALK THROUGH FLOWING WATER – Drowning is the number one cause of flood deaths. Most of these drownings occur during flash floods. Flash flood waters move at very fast speeds and can roll boulders, sweep away cars, tear out trees, destroy buildings, and obliterate bridges. Six inches of swiftly moving water can knock you off of your feet. If you must walk through a flooded area, use a pole or stick to ensure that the ground is still there and solid, even where the water is not flowing.
DO NOT DRIVE THROUGH A FLOODED AREA – More people drown in their cars than anywhere else. Cars can be swept away in just 2 feet of moving water. Do not drive around road barriers. They are there for a reason. The road or bridge may be washed out or structurally unsound. If your car becomes trapped in floodwaters, abandon it immediately and climb to higher ground. Many deaths have resulted from attempts to move stalled vehicles.
AVOID POWER LINES AND ELECTRICAL WIRES – Electrocution is also a major killer in floods. Electrical current can travel through water. Report downed power lines to your utility company or local emergency manager.
WATCH FOR ANIMALS, ESPECIALLY SNAKES – Small wild animals that have been flooded out of their homes may seek shelter in yours. Use a pole or stick to poke and turn items over and scare away small creatures.
LOOK BEFORE YOU STEP – After a flood, the ground and floors are covered with debris, including broken bottles and nails. Floors and stairs that have been covered with mud can be very slippery.
BE ALERT FOR GAS LEAKS – Use a flashlight to inspect for damage. Do not smoke or use candles, lanterns or open flames unless you are sure that the gas has been turned off and the area has been aired out.
CARBON MONOXIDE EXHAUST KILLS – Only use camping stoves, generators or other gasoline-powered machines OUTDOORS. Fumes from charcoal are especially deadly, so only use outdoors.
CLEAN EVERYTHING THAT GETS WET – Floodwaters have probably picked up sewage and chemicals from roads, farms and factories. Spoiled food and flooded medicines and cosmetics are health hazards. When in doubt, throw them away.
BE PREPARED FOR A ROUGH TIME – Recovering from a flood is a big job. It is rough on the body and the spirit. The aftereffects of this type of disaster on you and your family may last a long time. Consult a health professional on how to recognize and care for anxiety, stress and fatigue.
TAKE PHOTOS OF DAMAGE -- MEMA officials also remind residents who have experienced flood damage to take photographs as soon as possible. Those who have a flood insurance policy should contact the insurance company or agent who wrote the policy as soon as possible in order to file a claim.
SANITIZE WELL WATER -- If the area over a well is under flood water, the recommended procedure for disinfecting is:
1. Pour a solution of three gallons of water and one pint of 3% to 6% commercial bleach directly into the well,
2. Open all faucets until there is an odor of chlorine apparent and then close all faucets for ten hours to allow the bleach to kill bacteria present in the pipes, storage tank or well,
3. Open all faucets and let the water run until the odor and taste of bleach have disappeared,
4. Have a sample of water, taken 24 hours after disinfecting, tested at a certified laboratory to determine that the water is suitable for use.
This procedure results in a high level of chorine so the water should not be used for drinking, cooking, or watering livestock until the chlorine odor and taste is no longer apparent. Use of bottled water or boiling water is suggested if citizens are unsure of the purity of their water supply.
SEWAGE OVERFLOWS -- Yards that have been contaminated by flooded sewage systems should be disinfected by a liberal application of lime. Children and animals should be kept away from limed areas until the lime is no longer visible.
Source: Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency