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Planning and advanced preparation can significantly reduce stress and increase your ability to protect your home and family against low level flooding.

Here are some practical steps you can take to protect your home from low level flooding from several inches up to several feet.

  • First, decide how you will enter and exit your home after you have finished securing it. If you are just expecting water you could remove a screen from an open window. If preparing for a hurricane, you will want to pre-cut a piece of plywood that can be placed or anchored in front of a door (that opens inward) and that you can step over to leave your home. Next using 2” duct tape or packing tape (if the surface is dry or can be dried), seal the opening around your door across the bottom and up both sides of the door frame for several feet. Then attach lightweight plastic* in front of each opening, extending at least one foot to each side of the door and in front on the ground for one to two feet. Place filled sandbags on the plastic making sure that they settle snugly to the door surface and extend beyond the actual door opening. Place additional rows overlapping joints in bottom layer for one foot or more up each door, depending on the amount of flooding expected.

  • Although woven sandbags are most effective, there are other things you can use if they are unavailable. Garbage bags filled with wet towels, bedding or sod from the yard can be used, as well as bags of play sand. Whatever is put in the bags, make sure that they have sufficient weight to keep them from floating away and remove any air trapped in the plastic to prevent the bags from breaking open.

  • After the flooding is over (follow all Emergency Management return guidelines), remove the sandbags. During hurricane season you may want to keep your sandbags in case you need them again, storing them in a dry area out of the sun to prevent deterioration (a garage, shed or under a tarp) and off the ground as sandbags filled with dirt can cause staining on concrete or pool decks. When you do dispose of them, since many contain dirt or sandy dirt they can simply be added to your lawn or garden.

  • As hurricane season rapidly approaches, media coverage increases and so does the apprehension of many Florida residents. Charley and Wilma made us all too aware that coastal communities are not the only areas to be impacted. Debate over whether the increased number and strength of storms is due to global warming is well and good for the experts, but the bottom line for individual homeowners is “What does that mean for me, now?” Hurricane season officially starts June 1. As anyone who stood in line for plywood or gas can tell you…planning ahead is the key to successfully safeguarding your home and family.

*Use 1-2 mil plastic such as painters sheeting or lawn and trash bags because heavier plastics do not seal as securely.