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How to prepare for a flood
King County, Washington
Before a flood
Find out if you are in a flood prone area
- iMAP (high speed Internet connection required)
View and print custom online maps using King County data including parcels, floodway and floodplain boundaries.
- FEMA Flood Hazard Maps
Information on locating Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM), understand how to read them, and requesting a map change.
- FEMA Flood Map Service Center (External link)
Order or view current Flood Insurance Rate Maps online.
(registration required, no charge to view maps)
Update flood procedures for your family, farm or business (every year)
- Make sure everyone knows the emergency phone numbers, and when to call them.
- Learn the safest route from your home or business to high ground.
- Make arrangements for housing in the event you need to evacuate your home.
- Establish meeting places and phone numbers in case family members are separated by rising flood waters.
- Teach all family members how and when to turn off gas, electricity and water lines.
Register to receive information from various information sources
Talk to neighbors and share information on preparedness and previous experiences
- Remember, the next flood can always be bigger than floods you have seen before.
Consider using sand and sandbags to prevent flood damages
- Find out about sandbag distribution in King County.
- Learn how to use sandbags (176 Kb Acrobat pdf) from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
- Where to find sandbags in King County and how to use them (external)
Minimize flood damage
- Store valuables at higher elevations (second story, if possible).
- Store household chemicals above flood levels.
- Ensure that underground storage tanks are fully sealed and secure.
- Close storm shutters and sandbag doorways.
- Have check valves installed in building sewer traps to prevent flood waters from backing up in sewer drains.
- Move vehicles and RVs to higher ground.
Keep emergency supplies on hand: Disaster Supply Kit (FEMA)
- Portable radio, emergency cooking equipment, flashlights, fresh batteries, non-perishable food and drinking water, essential medicines and a first-aid kit.
Consider purchasing a NOAA Weather Radio
Take care of chemical products before flood season
Keep street drains, storm grates and flap gates free of leaves and other debris
- Call 206-296-8100 if you need assistance.
Consider buying flood insurance to protect your property
- Homeowners' insurance does not cover flood loss, but most homeowners' insurance agents also sell flood insurance. Anyone can get flood insurance, even if you are located in an area not mapped as a floodplain, or even if you have never been flooded before. Learn More: FloodSmart.gov
During a flood
Keep a battery-powered radio tuned to a local station
- Follow all emergency instructions.
If you are caught in your building by rapidly rising waters, call 911 for help
- Then move to a higher floor or to the roof. Take warm, weatherproof clothing, a flashlight, a cell phone and a portable radio.
Do not walk or wade in flooded areas
Be prepared to evacuate
- If advised to evacuate, do so immediately. Evacuation is much simpler and safer before flood waters become too deep for ordinary vehicles to drive through.
If you evacuate by car
- Do not drive where water is over the road or past barricaded road signs.
- If your car stalls in a flooded area, abandon it as soon as possible and walk to safety in the direction you came from.
- Follow recommended evacuation routes, as shortcuts may be blocked.
When flooding is imminent, but only if time permits
- Close the main gas valve.
- Turn off all utilities in your building at the main power switch. Do not touch any electrical equipment unless it is in a dry area or you are standing on a piece of dry wood while wearing rubber-soled shoes and rubber gloves.
- Record flood statistics such as time, gage reading, and local flood elevations for use in future home flood forecasting.
After a flood
Before re-entering your home
- Check for structural damage that could cause the building to collapse. Be cautious of potential gas leaks, electrical shorts and live wires.
When re-entering a building
- Use flashlights, rather than lanterns or candles (in case of gas leaks).
Have a professional check
- your heating system, electrical panel, outlets and appliances for safety before using. Call the gas company to have them turn the gas back on.
Follow Seattle-King County Public Health disaster preparedness procedures
- How to clean a house after a flood.
- Cleaning a basement after a flood.
- Safe food and medicine after a flood.
- Septic tank systems during power outages or floods.
Document your losses
- Photograph damages and record repair costs.
Contact your insurance agent for flood loss claims
Remove and empty sandbags
- Do not dump sand into the river or on its banks. Store it for future use.
Apply for financial assistance
- Only available following a federal disaster declaration. Listen to the radio or television for updates on disaster assistance and registration procedures.