Flood Survival Tips: Knowing the Facts


A flood is a large overflow of water beyond its normal confines that covers normally dry areas.  Flooding occurs in every state in the U.S. and in every region of Canada.  According to the National Weather Service, the average loss of life to flooding is 89 individuals a year and an astounding $8.2 Billion in damages.  Steps can be taken now to lessen the danger and damage posed by flooding.  The following is an introductory guide, resource directory and survival tips to assist the reader in being ready.

Survival Tips for Before Flooding Occurs

Some things one can do before a flood are:

  • Prepare you home before hand.
    • Modifications to the home can be done to reduce the damage caused by flooding.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) publishes a free guide entitled Protecting Your Home And Property From Flood Damage that will help a homeowner make decisions on how best to avoid property damage and personal risk posed by flooding.  Some state level agencies also publish similar guides.
    • Avoid building new homes in floodplains.  If the building is situated in a floodplain, it must be elevated and reinforced.
    • Construct barriers (e.g., beams, floodwalls, etc.) to stop waters from entering your home.
    • Research and know the areas prone to flooding in your area.
    • Seal basement walls with waterproofing material.
    • Make sure gutters and drains are always clear.
    • Be sure to elevate electrical panels, switches, sockets, furnaces, fuel tanks, etc. if the area is susceptible to flooding.
    • Note that flood losses are not normally covered under homeowner’s insurance polices, so have proper flood insurance for your home or business.  Flood insurance is available from most local insurance agents.
  • Educate yourself on the dangers and how to avoid them.
  • Have the necessary items ready before hand.  These include:
    • An emergency kit for your home.
    • A 72-hour bag (colloquially known as a “bug out bag”) and related items for your vehicle.
    • If forced to evacuate, take important documents with you.

Survival Tips for During a Flooding Event

There are steps that can be taken shortly before and during a flooding event that will greatly reduce the risk to life and reduce damage to a home.

  • Listen to radio, television, or Internet news reports for information of weather that could result in flooding.
  • In the event of the warning of flash flooding, evacuate the area immediately and head for high ground.  Flash floods can develop and occur very rapidly, so waste no time.
  • Should you be instructed to do so by emergency officials, turn off main utilities and valves.
  • Do not attempt to operate or even touch electrical equipment that is in standing water.
  • Avoid any contact with flood water.  The water may be contaminated with raw sewage, petrochemicals (e.g., oil, gasoline, diesel fuel, etc.), and harmful microbes.
    • Be mindful of children as they may attempt to play in flood waters.
  • Do not walk through moving water.  As little as six inches of moving water can make a person fall.  Two feet of rushing water can move a vehicle such as a car or light truck.
  • If a mandatory evacuation order is issued and it is safe to go, do so without delay.

Survival Tips for Floods

Survival Tips for After a Flooding Event

After a flood has occurred, there are important steps to take in recovery in addition to the steps outlined in the previous section.

  • Only return home or to your place of business when authorities have stated it is safe to do so.
  • If the power is still out, only use flashlights when entering your home or business as flammable material may be present.
  • Continue to monitor the radio and other media sources for updates.
  • Stay out of any structures still surrounded by flood waters.
  • Note that damaged sewage and septic systems are very dangerous to human life.  They should be repaired as soon as possible.
  • Stay clear of downed power lines and report any to the electrical company or cooperative.
  • Thoroughly clean and disinfect any article that came in contact with flood water.  Discard articles that cannot be properly cleaned.
  • Do not consume any food, beverage, or tobacco product that came in contact with flood waters as they are likely contaminated.
    • If absolutely necessary, drinking water may be made safe by boiling and filtering.

While floods are a daunting challenge, with the right preparations and know how, one can protect their life and property.  If the reader would like to discuss floods, survival tips or any other disaster, consider joining the free Disaster.com forum.  Sign up is quick and easy.

Sources

  1. Are you ready? An In-depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness (pp. 55-57). (2002). Washington, D.C.: FEMA.
  2. Public Safety Canada: Floods. (2014, March 4). Retrieved February 19, 2015, from https://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/mrgnc-mngmnt/ntrl-hzrds/fld-eng.aspx
  3. Protecting Your Home and Property from Flood Damage: Mitigation Ideas for Reducing Flood Loss. (2010). United States: U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency.
  4. NOAA’s National Weather Service. (n.d.). Retrieved February 19, 2015, from http://www.nws.noaa.gov/hic/
  5. Flood Safety. (n.d.). Retrieved February 19, 2015, from http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/flood
  6. Civil Defense Basics—Natural Disasters. (n.d.). Retrieved February 19, 2015, from http://www.tacda.org/docs/TACDA_Academy_CDBasics_7Natural.pdf
  7. 6 Ways To Protect Your Home From Flooding | Bankrate.com. (n.d.). Retrieved February 20, 2015, from http://www.bankrate.com/finance/weather/natural-disasters/6-ways-protect-home-flooding.aspx
  8. The National Flood Insurance Program | FEMA.gov. (n.d.). Retrieved February 20, 2015, from https://www.fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program
  9. Missouri State Emergency Management Agency. (n.d.). Retrieved February 20, 2015, from http://sema.dps.mo.gov/plan_and_prepare/flooding.asp
  10. Floods. (n.d.). Retrieved February 21, 2015, from http://www.floridadisaster.org/EMTOOLS/Severe/floods.htm
  11. My Hazards Awareness Map. (n.d.). Retrieved February 21, 2015, from http://myhazards.calema.ca.gov/

survival tips

An Introduction to the Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS)


For some individuals, volunteers, and family groups wishing to be prepared, the licensed radio services (e.g., Amateur Radio, General Mobile Radio Service, et al.) are not an option.  Unlicensed services (e.g., Citizen Band, Family Radio Service, et al.) may be crowded, lack sufficient range, or be suffering from serious interference.  There is another option though:  Multi-Use Radio Service or MURS.

The Multi-Use Radio Service is a private, two-way, unlicensed radio service in the 151—154 MHz VHF spectrum range.  The service has five (5) channels available.*  In some respects, it is similar to Citizen Band and the Family Radio Service (FRS).  The service was originally established by the Federal Communications Commission in the year 2000.  Transmissions may be in the form of voice or data communications.  Unlike amateur radio, business-related radio traffic is allowed on the service.  Unfortunately, “store and forward” type operations are not permitted.  The use of radio repeaters is also not allowed on the service.  The maximum output power is two (2) watts.  As of 2014, Canada is reviewing the possibility of allowing MURS operations in the country.

Multi-Use Radio Service Cartoon

Benefits for Preparation:

  • The Multi-Use Radio service is unlicensed.  Any member of a group or family may use the technology.
  • The output power of 2 watts is four times that of the 0.5 watt limitation on the Family Radio Service.
  • Unlike the Family Radio Service, external antennas are permitted.  MURS antennas can be up to 60 feet above the ground.
  • A transmission range of up to ten (10) miles or more can be achieved with this technology.  Some sources report up to twenty (20) miles under ideal conditions.
  • Unlike Citizen Band, digital (data, telemetry, telecommand, RTTYS, fast Morse, etc.) modes may be utilized on this service.
  • Technologies exist (e.g., GoTenna) to turn an existing SmartPhone into a MURS unit.
  • The cost of transceivers are, generally, low when compared to other services.

Limitations of the Multi-use Radio Service

  • The maximum output power is lower than Citizen Band and the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS).
  • Unlike Amateur Radio, MURS units may not be connected to the public telephone system.
  • Repeater operations are not an option on this service.
  • The service is limited to five channels.
  • Storage and forward operations are not permitted on this service.

Application

Multi-Use Radio Service transceivers can be found in handheld units, base stations, wireless public address units, remote switches, and other devices.  A wireless system can be tailored for the family or group wishing to stay in communication during a disaster.

Hopefully this guide has provided the reader with a solid overview of the  Multi-Use Radio Service or MURS.  If one wishes to discuss emergency preparedness, Disaster.com offers a forum to ask questions and obtain up-to-date information on all that is disaster-related.  Sign up is quick, easy, and totally free.

Sources

  1. Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS). (n.d.). Retrieved January 7, 2015, from http://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/multi-use-radio-service-murs-0
  2. Silver, H. (2005). Two-way Radios & Scanners for Dummies (p. 110). Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley.
  3. Spectrum Allocation and Utilization Policy Regarding the Use of Certain Frequency Bands Below 1.7 GHz for a Range of Radio Applications. (n.d.). Retrieved January 7, 2015, from https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst.nsf/vwapj/sp17-ps17-eng.pdf/$FILE/sp17-ps17-eng.pdf
  4. Jones, J. (2007). Emergency Communications. In Preparing for the Worst: A Comprehensive Guide to Protecting Your Family from Terrorist Attacks, Natural Disasters, and Other Catastrophes (p. 180). Westport, Conn. [u.a.: Praeger Security International.
  5. Horak, R. (2008). Webster’s New World Telecom Dictionary (1., Auflage ed., p. 327). New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.
  6. PART 95—PERSONAL RADIO SERVICES. (n.d.). Retrieved January 7, 2015, from http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-2009-title47-vol5/pdf/CFR-2009-title47-vol5-part95.pdf
  7. Buttars, R. (2013). Personal Radio Communications.

* MURS Channels

Channel Frequency Channel Name
1 151.820 MHz None
2 151.880 MHz None
3 151.940 MHz None
4 154.570 MHz Blue Dot (Business)
5 154.600 MHz Green Dot  (Business)

 

multi use radio service

Preparing Children for a Disaster: A Primer


Growing up in a prepared household these are a few of the tips I learned from my parents about preparing children for a disaster.  I have started to teach my daughter these as well, even though she is 18 months.

#1 – Start teaching them now.
It is never too early to start teaching kids how to be prepared and survive.  My father worked in several types of emergency services and my mother worked with emergency support services as a volunteer.  One of their favorite stories is that by the time I was three, I knew how to use a two-way radio.  When I was five, I could tie a sling to a wounded arm, better than most of the adult students in their first aid classes.  By eight, I could build a snow shelter and make a shelter in the forest.  There are many cases where a small child saved an adult’s life because they were taught what to do at a very early age.

#2 – Practice with your family. Kids need to have things repeated, and repeated, and repeated, and repeated.  Think about how many times they hear the ABCs.  The reason I could do first aid at such a young age was because my parents had to take me with them when they taught classes.  In school, we practice fire drills each month.  The reason is that with practice, it becomes automatic.  Do the same at home when preparing children for a disaster.  Yes, my family had home fire drills, including when friends stayed over.  I even had pop quizzes on emergency information.  Give rewards, verbal or physical, when they do good to encourage them to continue learning.  I had a sticker chart for chores, schoolwork, and emergency stuff.

#3 – Show them that this is important and serious. Show them that you take this seriously by being serious when you talk about being prepared.  It can kind of be made to be fun, but let them know that there is a reason for this information and the reason is that you want them to be safe, because you love them.

There were many times I remember Dad coming home from work and just looking at me and asking me questions like  “If there is a fire, where do you go?”  (Mailbox)  “Do you wait to find Mommy or Daddy?”  (No)  “If someone tries to take you, what do you yell?”  (“I don’t know you”, then “get away from me” as loud as I can.)  “What is the phrase they will tell you if they were sent by us?”  (Something about Dr. Who, it rotated)  or “If someone breaks into the house, what should you do?”  (Dial 911, leave phone off the hook, as I go to my room to hide in my big messy closet, unless I can get out the backdoor).   Even without him telling me, I knew a kid was hurt or died that day because they did not know the answers. My parents really took preparing children for a disaster seriously!



#4 – Teach them where equipment is in your house
. I can still tell you where the fire extinguisher, first aid kit, band-aids, gauze bandages, roller bandages, and radios were in each of our houses growing up.  I remember one time, while Dad was gone, my mom cut herself badly while pruning.  She came into the house yelling for me, then laid down on the bathroom floor.  I got what was needed and started to apply first aid while making sure she did not go into shock.  I think I was about 10 at the time.

#5 – Make first aid kits and emergency equipment a habit.  While in school, I had a basic first aid kit, safety pins, and flashlight in my backpack.  It was part of my back-to-school supplies.  I have a feeling they were even kept in my diaper bag, although I don’t know for sure.  I know these supplies are in my daughter’s diaper bag, which my daycare provider says is the most organized and prepared bag she has seen.  As an adult, I have the same in my purse, as well as my classroom.  I knew having a fire extinguisher was important, because one was always outside my bedroom door.  This meant that when I went away to college I got one on my first shopping trip.

#6 – Visitors to the house need to know emergency procedures as well.  The first time someone came to spend the night at my house, they were told our emergency meeting place.  As my parents always said, “If they are staying at our house, their safety is our responsibility.”  They were also told what to do if I had low blood sugar, as I am diabetic.

#7 – Your kids will not always be with you. Ask about where they would go if a fire happened while they were spending the night at a friend’s house or at the babysitter’s.  Make them think about how to get out of various locations and where to go so that it becomes a habit.  I tended to ask people where their meeting place was the first time I stayed at someone’s house, so it got them thinking about emergency preparedness as well.

End thoughts

Having a prepared kid doesn’t mean you don’t have to worry.  You are a parent so of course you will worry.  What it does mean is that you will not have to spend valuable time giving directions, which they won’t hear, to a stressed out stubborn kid, when you are stressed yourself.

Hopefully you will never have to find out, but training your kid could save their or someone else’s life.  It will also put a better head on their shoulders when they are away from you.  At the very least, it will give them habits to make them prepared adults. Preparing children for a disaster should be as important as teaching your child how to ride a bike.

Rebecca Amela

Rebecca is a school teacher and has been involved with the American Red Cross and other community preparedness organizations. She is married, has a daughter, a son on the way, and lives in the Northwest. When not teaching, her hobbies include crafts, sewing, and the science fiction genre.

Facebook Twitter Google+  

preparing children for a disaster