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Don’t wait, prepare now: How to prepare your home and car emergency kit for Ida

The American Red Cross says to talk to your family and have a strategy in case of evacuation. Everyone should have a three-day supply of water and shelf-stable food

In preparation for Ida, local officials are urging the public to have an emergency kit ready and a plan in place for your home, car and animals.

The American Red Cross says to talk to your family and have a strategy in case of evacuation. Everyone should have a three-day supply of water, shelf-stable food, fully charged devices and a safe place for their pets that is above ground level.

A spokesperson for the organization says to also prepare your streets to prevent flooding issues.

"Make sure your gutters and your downspouts are free and clear," said Lisa Landis, communications and marketing director for American Red Cross Greater Pennsylvania Region.

Landis says don't hesitate to reach out to those around you. 

 "If you're able to coordinate with your neighbors and make sure any of the storm drains on your street or your block are free and clear of any debris that will easily back up that water from draining and creating additional challenges."

Landis also says just a few inches of water can over-power a person or their vehicle.

See the video below for the difference between a flash flood watch and a flash flood warning. Flash flood flooding can impact your home and vehicle.

PennDOT encourages everyone to stay indoors, but if you have to be on the roads — have a full tank of gas and ensure your windshield wipers are in good condition. If you are stuck and have children in the car, make sure they are preoccupied with electronics or activities.

Fritzi Schreffler, a spokesperson for PennDOT says if you find yourself in an emergency, get out of your vehicle safely and call for help.

"If you find yourself suddenly in a situation where there is water and there is rising — call for help," said Schreffler. "Your life is more important than the value of your vehicle, so be aware of that."

See below for more tips from the American Red Cross:

Prepare

  • Assemble an emergency preparedness kit that includes: water, non-perishable food, a battery-powered radio (NOAA Weather Radio), extra batteries, first-aid kit, cell phones and chargers.
  • A household evacuation plan that includes your pets.
  • Stay informed about your community’s risk and response plans.
  • Ensure each family member knows how to get back in touch if you are separated during an emergency.
  • Keep insurance policies, documents, and other valuables in a safe-deposit box. You may need quick, easy access to these documents. Keep them in a safe place less likely to be damaged during a flood. Take pictures on a phone and keep copies of important documents and files on a flashdrive that you can carry with you on your house or car keys.
  • Download the free Red Cross Emergency App for weather alerts, open Red Cross shelter locations, and safety tips (available for iPhone or for Android).

Prepare Your Home

If you live in a floodplain, elevate, and reinforce your home to make damage less likely during a flood.
Check with a professional to:

  • Raise your furnace, water heater, and electric panel to floors that are less likely to be flooded. An undamaged water heater may be your best source of fresh water after a flood.
  • Install check valves in plumbing to prevent floodwater from backing up into the drains of your home. (As a last resort, when floods threaten, use large corks or stoppers to plug showers, tubs, or basins.)
  • Construct barriers such as levees, berms, and flood walls to stop floodwater from entering the building (if permitted by local building codes).
  • Seal walls in basements with waterproofing compounds to avoid seepage through cracks.
  • Use sandbags when flooding is expected:
    • It takes two people about one hour to fill and place 100 sandbags, creating a wall one foot high and 20 feet long.
    • Make sure you have enough sand, burlap or plastic bags, shovels, strong helpers, and time to place them properly.
    • If a flood is expected, some communities will offer free sandbags to residents. Be sure to watch or listen to the news so you can access these resources.

Prepare Your Pets 

  • Prepare a pet emergency kit for your companion animals.
  • Bring your companion animals indoors and maintain direct control of them. Be sure that your pet emergency kit is ready to go in case of evacuation.

If You Have Livestock

  • Ensure that any outbuildings, pastures, or corrals are protected in the same way as your home.
  • If installing or changing fence lines, consider placing them in such a way that your animals are able to move to higher ground in the event of flooding.
  • Consider a precautionary evacuation of your animals, especially any large or numerous animals. Waiting until the last minute could be fatal for them and dangerous for you.

Right Before A Flood

  • Listen to local area radio, NOAA radio or TV stations for the latest information and updates.
  • Be prepared to evacuate quickly and know your routes and destinations.
  • Check your emergency kit and replenish any items missing or in short supply, especially medications or other medical supplies. Keep it nearby.
  • Fill plastic bottles with clean water for drinking.
  • Fill bathtubs and sinks with water for flushing the toilet or washing the floor or clothing.
  • Fill your car's gas tank in case you need to evacuate.
  • Bring outdoor belongings, such as patio furniture, indoors.
  • Turn off propane tanks to reduce the potential for fire.
  • Move your furniture and valuables to higher floors of your home.
  • Turn off utilities if told to do so by authorities to prevent damage to your home or within the community. If you shut your gas off, a professional is required to turn it back on.
  • Unplug small appliances to reduce potential damage from power surges that may occur.

During a Flood – Staying Safe Indoors

  • Turn off the power and water mains if instructed to do so by local authorities.
  • Boil tap water until water sources have been declared safe.
  • Avoid contact with floodwater. It may be contaminated with sewage or contain dangerous insects or animals.
  • Continue listening to local area radio, NOAA radio or TV stations for the latest information and updates.
  • Don’t use gas or electrical appliances that have been flooded.
  • Dispose of any food that comes into contact with flood water.

During a Flood – Staying Safe Outdoors

  • Don't walk, swim or drive through floodwater. Just six inches of fast-flowing water can knock you over and two feet will float a car.
  • If caught on a flooded road with rapidly rising waters, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground.
  • Don't walk on beaches or riverbanks.
  • Don’t allow children to play in or near flood water.
  • Avoid contact with floodwater. It may be contaminated with sewage or contain dangerous insects or animals.
  • Stay out of areas subject to flooding. Underpasses, dips, low spots, canyons, washes, etc. can become filled with water.

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