According to a 2009 U.S. Global Change Research Program, the average precipitation in the U.S. has increased approximately five percent the past 50 years. More rain and snow, in conjunction with land use changes, is increasing the likelihood of flooding for homeowners.
Many insurance policies don’t cover flooding, even floods that occur through nature. If your home is built in a flood zone, you’ll need flood insurance as part of your homeowner’s coverage. But, how do you know if you live in a flood zone?
First, you’ll need to understand what is considered a flood zone. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a floodplain is any area that is next to a body of water. FEMA doesn’t define how far away or near a home needs to be to a body of water to be considered a flood zone property. There are, unfortunately, many characteristics of floodplains that can’t be easily defined. It’s up to you to know if your property will be safe in a storm and to insure your property correctly. Here are the steps to take to do so.
Step 1: Local Flood Zone Map
Check with the local government agency to see flood zone maps for your area. Most counties and towns have flood zone maps available for public view. FEMA provides copies of the latest and most up-to-date flood zone maps for most communities.
Step 2: Map Service Center
Go online and visit the Map Service Center on the FEMA website. This site lets you view Flood Insurance Rate Map information free of charge. You can pinpoint a specific area of the map and save it to the computer in true scale. This will help you establish the location of your property on the map and help you determine if your home is in a flood zone.
Pro Tip: Purchase a Water Leak Sensor
Step 3: Home Location
Compare your home location to the flood zone map boundaries to see if you’re in a flood zone. Some flood zones are considered a greater risk than others. The maps will give you details about which type of flood zone insurance you may need, depending on the risk to your property.
You can also go to freeflood.net and put your address in the search box. From here, you can tell if your property lies within a 100-to-500 year floodplain, which will help you determine the likelihood of flooding to your home. Just keep in mind that the information you find on this website is advisory only and should not be used to determine if you need flood insurance.
Step 4: Insurance Status
Call your insurance agent and discuss what kind of insurance you need to be protected.
In addition to knowing if your home is in a flood zone and insuring it properly, there are other steps you can take to protect your home from flood damage.
A flood can occur because of a natural disaster, but your home may also flood because of a broken pipe, water leaking into the basement, or a faulty bathtub. Fortunately, there are security system companies that offer alarm systems that can detect water in the home. Sensors that are part of your home security system can alert you to leaks that will threaten your walls, flooring, valuables, and furniture.
ADT is one of the companies that offers flood sensors as part of a home security system. You can enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing you will be alerted about flood dangers, giving you time to stop leaks or remove your valuables from the home. Areas like basements, behind washing machines, near appliances, or underneath sinks are especially susceptible to water leaks and are great places to put sensors.
Be sure to take the steps necessary to ensure your home is protected from a flood. Find out what how at risk your home is and then take the necessary measures to protect it.
Written by Hillary Johnston
A proud mother of four, Hillary is passionate about safety education. She holds a degree in Public Health and Disaster Management. Learn more