Every now and then, we get a wake up call about how fickle Mother Nature can be. Natural disasters like Katrina, Sandy, and most recently, Hurricane Harvey remind us of the substantial amounts of damage that copious amounts of rain and raising water levels can leave in their wake.

It’s important to keep things in perspective: The same way that residents in California should be highly concerned with earthquakes and forest fires, people in, say, New York City are probably safe from those types of dangers. But hurricanes? Those are always in the back of our minds in Florida.

So what can we do to protect ourselves from a flood?

Do you live in a high risk flood zone?

This one seems like a no brainer. If you live in close proximity to any body of water, or if you’ve experienced flooding before, chances are that yes, you are in a risky area. However, the answer isn’t always this obvious. If you’re not sure, you can email us your Elevation Certificate and we’ll check for you. You can get a copy from the closing documents from when you purchased your home, or you can request a copy from your insurance agent.

Review your flood insurance policy:

We’ve mentioned this tip in several previous blogs because it is the single, most crucial thing you can do in case of emergency. It took your family years to get your home and all of your prized possessions (and the not so prized, yet necessary items, such as furniture and appliances). You can’t afford to lose them all and start from zero. Check to see what would be covered in case you lost it all. If you’re not adequately covered, increase your coverage. And remember that homeowners insurance usually doesn’t cover floods.

 Stock up on food and essential items:

Once there’s a hurricane warning, don’t wait until the last minute to buy groceries. Stock up on non-perishables, water, and basic first aid items. Failing to do this will probably ensure that by the time you get to the store, you’ll be met with empty shelves. While you’re at it, also buy an external battery pack for your cell phone.

Gather all of your important documents:

Before the storm is the time to look for your birth certificate, social security card, passport, visas, green cards, bank cards, and anything else that may be essential to prove that you’re you or to travel. Place them all in sealed plastic bags and pack them in a backpack, in case you have to evacuate your home.

 Listen to the news:

If newscasters, first responders, or government agents tell you to evacuate your neighborhood, don’t think that you know better than they do. Pack up, place all of your electronics in the highest spots possible in your home, and go to a designated shelter or stay with friends or family (or a hotel) in a safer area.

 Do not drive through flooded roads:

If you see them en route, turn around and find an alternative way to get to your destination. This is yet another reason to not wait until the last minute to act. Waiting until the last minute might mean either that (a) there will be a long line of cars behind you, leaving you with little choices, or (b) first responders are already busy taking care of other emergencies. So, do things with plenty of time to spare, and avoid driving on flooded roads.

 When you return home, file your paperwork with FEMA.

Make sure you appropriately document all of the damage by taking pictures and getting estimates of replacing/repairing items. For additional steps on what to do if your home suffers flood damage, you can read our previous blog on the subject, by clicking here.

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