When we are faced with a flood, whether it is the result of a hurricane, heavy rains, or mass amounts of melting snow, there is virtually little we can do to fully prevent damage to our homes and personal property, unless of course your house happens to have “Go-Go Gadget Legs!” So, unless your name is Inspector Gadget, here are steps you can take to prepare for this natural disaster as well steps for minimizing the effects of the flood.

When you first purchase your home, you want find out what your flood risk is. You can do this by calling your local emergency management office. Ask to see a flood map of your community to help determine just how much water you could expect in the event of a flood. Remember, you don’t have to live near the water to be at risk. If you find out you live in a flood plain, the next step you should take is to purchase flood insurance. This should be done immediately, seeing as that most policies take 30 days to go into effect. Flood insurance will help reduce the inevitable high cost of restoration after the flood. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, approximately $6 billion in damages are caused by floods every year.

Working from the outside in, it is suggested you have a licensed professional contractor add waterproof veneer to the exterior walls, which will keep shallow water from seeping into your home. The electrical panel, water heater, and furnace should all be elevated and the HVAC system should be raised or flood-proofed to avoid water damage. To prevent flood water from blocking the drains of your home, sewer taps should be installed with appropriate check valves.

It is also wise to get a sump pump. Usually, the first place in the house to be flooded is the basement. Basements are usually built below ground level, and this is where the flood waters will naturally converge. Most basements have a sump pit, which is a hole located in the lowest area of the basement to collect water. The sump pit helps by allowing a way for water in the basement to flow out. Be sure to periodically check on the sump pump to make sure it is working. A word to the wise, do not pump the water into the sewer as it could overload your septic system and damage it.

Another major concern will be to move your household inventory to higher places. Start with small things, such as photo albums, legal documents, and jewelry. Then, if feasible, move the furniture and major appliances like your refrigerator, range, and home entertainment system. Safeguarding what you currently have from flood damage will be more cost-effective than having to buy new furniture and appliances after the flood.

Of course, nobody is capable of preventing floods, but as we discussed, there are ways to prepare your home so that flood damage and the consequential expenses of floods can be minimized.