Flood season in Southern Alberta has hit hard, especially in the areas around Okotoks. Stories of flooding in Canada and around the world fill daily newscasts; recently Sheep River’s high watermark caused a flood watch, but has since receded. It is essential to prepare for any emergency rather than waiting to clean up the aftermath; here are some tips to keep your Okotoks home dry.
1) Plan. Before a flood actually happens, you should have a plan in place that outlines emergency phone numbers, where the safest high ground is near your home (and how to get there), housing if you need to evacuate, meeting places if your family members get separated by the waters and somewhere for your pets and/or livestock to stay. All members of the household should know how to turn off the utilities (gas/electricity/water lines) and be knowledgeable about flood safety.
2) Prepare. Especially if your home is in a flood-prone area, you should have a safety supply kit for your home, vehicle and workplace. This will include essential items like candles, matches, a first aid kit and fresh drinking water.
3) Preserve. Move all of your keepsakes and important documents, like family albums, marriage certificate, etc., into a watertight container.
If the worst happens and you learn of a flood warning, the following steps should be taken.
1) Turn off all electricity/gas. This can be done by flipping the master switch of your fuse box; learn where this is beforehand, and stand on a dry board and use a dry wooden stick to turn it off if the area around the fuse box is wet. You may also be asked to turn off your gas; your local gas supplier should instruct you.
2) Move furniture/appliances. If you have time, move your furniture and appliances to above ground level.
3) Pesticides/insecticides. Move these items to an area that will stay dry to prevent the liquids from leaking and polluting the water.
4) Hot water heater. You should also turn off the water to and from your hot water heater; do not drain the water, as it will act as a ballast and hold the tank down.
During a flood:
1) Keep the radio on. Keep yourself updated with areas affected, which roads that are passable and instructions on what happens if you are asked to leave your home.
2) Never cross a flooded area. You can be easily swept away – even if you’re in a car – if the water is deeper than you thought.