How to Prepare for a Flood
Flood preparedness is not always at the top of our to-do list, but if you live in a flood zone, it’s critical to have a safety plan in place. Understanding your community’s warning system and knowing where to go in the event of an evacuation are just the first steps. You’ll also want a supply of non-perishable foods, cleaning supplies, and a first aid kit that includes any medicines you, your family members, or your pets will need.
That being said, you may already have an evacuation plan or an escape route mapped out, but how will you access potable, clean water? Each member of your family will need one gallon of water per person, per day. And that’s just for drinking. You’ll also need clean water for sanitation, personal care, and cleaning. Emergency water storage is a critical component of your flood safety plan.
Water Storage Options
Floodwater is often turbid and polluted with chemicals from road runoff, pesticides, and other debris. In fact, stormwater runoff is the largest threat to water ecosystems in the U.S. These contaminants can linger even after the floodwaters have receded. They can enter groundwater and pollute wells and other natural water sources, so it is a good idea to plan access to clean water for at least a couple of weeks after a flood event. To protect yourself and your loved ones, read on to learn about the many ways to store emergency water.
Rainwater harvesting refers to the collection of rain running off of an impervious surface such as gutters or your rooftop. Gardeners and farmers have used this system for years and have perfected the system. It’s free, relatively clean, and conserves water, making it an excellent option for emergency planning.
Rain harvest kits are the perfect solution for flood preparedness, especially if you are off-grid due to power outages. The collection tanks are easy to install and can store water safely for long periods of time. They also protect the water from pests and outside particles or contaminants. When it is time to use the stored water, simply strain and filter it directly from the tank.
Underground Water Cisterns
The key to flood preparedness is good planning. Having the right tools well in advance of flooding season will put you ahead of the storm and keep you and your family safe. Installing an underground water cistern is something you can do ahead of time to ensure you are ready for the next time a flood hits.
These plastic water tanks can be stored below ground, though only the 300- and 550-gallon tanks can remain there while empty. The larger 600-gallon tanks will need to remain at least a fourth of the way filled to be securely stored underground. Because they are constructed using polyethylene plastic resins approved by the FDA, they are applicable for water consumption. In addition, the plastic is safe and durable enough to withstand the elements.
Steel and Fiberglass Tanks
Tanks made from steel and fiberglass have some key advantages over tanks constructed of other materials. During a flood event, your water storage tank will face collisions with debris and forceful, rushing water. While polyethylene offers its own benefits like affordability and low-maintenance upkeep, steel and fiberglass are made to withstand being under siege during flooding, along with a wider variety of conditions such as fire and ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
Steel tanks for water storage are available in a variety of sizes and storage capacities, so there are plenty of options to choose from. They are corrosion and UV resistant, and can withstand fire and harsh environmental conditions. Steel does not crack in sub-freezing temperatures, making it especially durable in colder climates.
Some of the benefits offered by fiberglass tanks include their ability to be customized for above- or below-ground installation. They are flexible, but have a high tensile strength; in fact, they are 12 times stronger by weight than steel. They are economical, durable, and have a long lifespan. Like steel, they are also corrosion and UV resistant.
Bladder tanks are also called pillow tanks because their fabric construction resembles a pillow when they are filled with water. They are constructed by sealing a durable fabric around all four sides and then placing pressure relief valves in the fabric to control pressure. They also have valves for filling and emptying the bladder when needed. These tanks are available in a variety of capacities, from 50 gallons to upwards of 25,000 gallons, depending on their use.
Advantages of bladder tanks include their portability and space-saving ability to fold up and flatten when empty or not in use. This makes storage convenient, especially when it is needed in remote locations. They are lightweight and easy to repair, and can be made quickly when necessary. A variety of valve attachments are available, making customization easy per client specifications. In addition, they protect the liquid inside from outside contaminants as the fabric is completely sealed and closed to outside elements.
Portable Transport Tanks
In the event you’ll need to evacuate during a flood, be sure to have portable storage tanks for potable water to transport with you. Portable transport tanks are leakproof, compact, and are often designed to be used with tie-downs. They can be used equally well in both rural and urban locations. Most are constructed of an FDA approved plastic that is UV-stabilized for outdoor use and are convenient for transport in a truck bed. Many are designed with supportive legs that help keep the tank stable and upright.
Slimline Water Tanks
For storing emergency liquids indoors, there’s no better solution than slimline water tanks. Also known as doorway tanks, water closet tanks, or wall tanks, these water storage containers are compactly designed with a minimum width for fitting through doorways and other small areas inside a home. They are great for indoor storage of emergency water and can be stored upright. They hold their shape and do not need any type of support to stay in place.
All Flood Emergencies Are Not the Same
With all of these available options, it’s sometimes hard to know which one is best for the type of flood emergency you are planning for. Floods can occur quickly and without warning. Flash floods are especially dangerous since they happen so suddenly. If your area is prone to frequent heavy rainfall, quickly thawing snow due to a heat wave, or nearby hurricanes, it will be worth the time and effort to put a water storage system in place.
Natural disasters like floods are difficult to predict simply because there are so many variables: the hydrogeology and topography of the land, the number of streams or rivers in the area, and the remoteness of the location. The most typical emergencies fall into three categories: on-the-move emergencies, shelter-in-place emergencies, and long-term emergencies. Each of these situations will need a different approach to storing water.
These situations will require portable water storage such as transport tanks. These are often made of polyethylene plastic resins and are designed to remain stable during transport. They often fit in the back of a pickup truck or inside a trailer that can be attached to a motor vehicle. Bladder or pillow tanks may also be good options.
Slimline water tanks are good for these types of emergencies since they are small enough to move from room to room and can be stored in a closet or another storage area within the home. Underground storage tanks are also a good investment in these scenarios because they can remain below ground or be transported if necessary. As previously mentioned, many of these tanks can stay underground even when they are empty, though some will need to be at least a quarter of the way full.
For long-term situations, a fiberglass or steel tank may be your best option. These are designed specifically to withstand harsh environmental conditions and are usually UV and corrosion resistant. They have longer life cycles than other options, and are built to stand up to the challenge of changing weather. Similarly, rain harvesting kits can offer long-term solutions for augmenting or replacing your clean water supply.
It’s All About Safety
Keep in mind, if you are storing emergency water in your home, garage, or in a transport vehicle, you should never keep the storage tank near any type of chemical. This includes kerosine, gasoline, pesticides or any other household chemicals you may also be storing. While most water storage containers resist vapor transmission, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Advance planning is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones during a flood. Determining which method of emergency water storage is best for you can make all the difference when you are faced with potentially life-threatening disasters. Whether you need temporary or long-term water storage, there’s a solution available at Tank Depot. Don’t wait for an emergency to strike; the sooner you act, the safer you’ll be.