IBHS Offers Guidance to Protect Commercial and Residential Properties During National Flood Awareness Week

During National Flood Safety Awareness Week (March 14-18), IBHS encourages people to learn about their specific flood risk and take steps to protect their home or business.

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As all of this snow and ice melts, adding to the water levels in already high streams, lakes, and rivers, we will see flooding – and that flooding could be severe in some areas, particularly as spring rain is added into the mix.

Tampa, FL (Vocus/PRWEB) March 16, 2011

During National Flood Safety Awareness Week (March 14-18), IBHS encourages people to learn about their specific flood risk and take steps to protect their home or business.

A mix of melting snow and spring rains means home and business owners must prepare now for the possibility of spring flooding, according to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS).

“The U.S. experienced a second straight winter of heavy snowfall totals,” said Julie Rochman, president and CEO of IBHS. “As all of this snow and ice melts, adding to the water levels in already high streams, lakes, and rivers, we will see flooding – and that flooding could be severe in some areas, particularly as spring rain is added into the mix.”

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a large portion of the U.S. is at risk for moderate to major flooding this spring. During National Flood Safety Awareness Week (March 14-18), IBHS encourages people to learn about their specific flood risk and take steps to protect their home or business. Some loss prevention steps can be taken by the property owner, while others require a licensed professional. Each change you make will increase the structure’s ability to resist flood damage.

KNOW YOUR ELEVATION
It is important to know just how high a property sits relative to surrounding water. The first step toward increasing flood safety for any property owner is to determine the generally expected flooding level in that area. To that end, knowing the base flood elevation (BFE) is essential; BFE is the level water will reach during a flood with a one-percent annual chance of occurring. “While this percentage chance of a flood may seem low at first glance, it is important to note that it is only a reference point. In fact, so-called ‘1-in-100 year floods’ actually happen every few years in some of the same places if the rain and snow fall is heavy enough,” explained Rochman.

If in doubt about a property’s BFE, property owners can consult the local building authority. Property owners also should check building department records or the property survey for the elevation of the structure’s lowest floor or enclosed area in the building – including any space below ground level on all sides (e.g., a basement). If you are unable to find the lowest floor elevation, a licensed surveyor could be hired to make that determination.

IBHS recommends that homeowners take the following steps now before a flood to reduce interior water damage:

  •     Hire a licensed electrician to raise electric components (switches, sockets, circuit breakers and wiring) at least 12 inches above the expected flood levels for your area.
  •     If flood waters enter the sewer system, sewage can back up and enter your home. To prevent this, hire a licensed plumber to install an interior or exterior backflow valve. Check with your building department for permit requirements.
  •     Make sure your yard's grading (slope) directs water away from the building.
  •     Have the installation of your furnace, water heater and other permanently equipment modified so that they are elevated above the expected flood levels for your area.

IBHS recommends that business owners and managers take the following steps now before a flood to reduce interior water damage:

  •     Be sure that any active water management system elements, such as sump pumps, are hard-wired to the back-up generator in the event of a power failure. Test the back-up power system regularly. Install a back-up sump pump for buildings at risk for flooding.
  •     Keep a supply of sandbags on hand to help divert unusually high water away from the building foundation.
  •     Establish clear snow removal guidelines that protect drains and the building foundation. If necessary, flag drains to avoid plowing snow on top of them.

IBHS offers much more information and specific guidance on its website, http://www.DisasterSafety.org, for both homeowners and business owners about how to reduce the risk of damage from imminent flooding and what to do after a flood occurs.

About the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS)
IBHS is an independent, nonprofit, scientific and educational organization supported by the property insurance industry. The organization works to reduce the social and economic effects of natural disasters and other risks to residential and commercial property by conducting research and advocating improved construction, maintenance and preparation practices.

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