With flood risks running high across the state and Gov. Jay Inslee declaring a state of emergency just a few days ago, federal emergency officials are reminding people of some basic tips to keep themselves safe.

Here are some things to keep in mind during a flood, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency's National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP):

  • Move to high ground. When it floods, go to higher ground. Avoid areas subject to flooding. Be aware of streams, drainage channels, and areas known to flood so that you are not cut off from your evacuation routes.
  • Watch out for water. Don't walk across flowing streams or drive on flooded roads. Moving water just 6 inches deep can knock you off your feet and cause an injury. Even 2 feet of water is enough to sweep a car off the road.
  • Listen for updates. Listen to the radio or TV for information. Be sure to follow the instructions of local authorities.
  • Turn off power. Turn off all utilities at the main power switch and close the main gas valve if advised to do so. Don't touch any electrical devices if you're wet or in standing water.

But when the water recedes, the hassles don't. Remember these tips for after a flood, the NFIP urges:

  • Check for damage. Check for structural damage before re-entering your home. If you suspect damage to water, gas, electric, or sewer lines, contact authorities.
  • Remove wet items. Immediately remove wet carpeting, furniture, and bedding. Any item holding moisture can develop mold within 24 to 48 hours. Clean and disinfect everything touched by floodwater. Get cleanup tips at emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/floods.
  • Plan before you repair. The rebuilding decisions you make now to lower your risk and insurance costs can result in big benefits over the long term. Contact your local building inspection or planning office or your county clerk's office to get more information.
  • File your flood insurance claim. To file your claim, you'll need your insurance company's name, your policy number, and a number where you can be reached. Take photos of any water in the house and anything damaged in your home. Make a detailed list of all damaged or lost items.
  • Ask about disaster assistance. Federal disaster assistance might be available if the President declares a Federal disaster. When available, this assistance typically comes in the form of a loan and must be paid back with interest.

"We want to ensure that local residents are aware of hazards as they re-enter flooded areas and provide guidance on filing flood insurance claims for those who have coverage through the NFIP," a news release from Danae Goldberg at the NFIP's marketing website, FloodSmart.gov, says. "We encourage area residents who are not insured for flooding to protect themselves from the financial costs of future floods by obtaining flood insurance through the NFIP."

For more information, get hold of your local planning, building-inspection or county clerk's offices -- or visit FloodSmart.gov.

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