Flooding is one of the most devastating natural disasters Wisconsin faces each year. Several communities around the state have already dealt with the issue this past week as warmer temperatures and rain melt the snow.

ReadyWisconsin is encouraging everyone in the state to think about how to protect themselves and their property during Flood Safety Awareness Week, coming March 18-22.

“Flooding puts lives at risk and has the potential to do severe damage throughout a community,” said Brian Satula, Wisconsin Emergency Management administrator. “Last year it claimed two lives in Wisconsin and caused millions of dollars in property damage. Take steps now to help protect your home. Be sure you know what to do when the water is rising so everyone in your family remains safe.”

Wisconsin had two federally declared disasters in 2018 following flooding in northwestern Wisconsin in June and across the state in August and September. Those disasters alone resulted in more than $60 million in reported damage to individual properties and public infrastructure. But those numbers represent only a portion of the damage done by flooding in the state each year.

ReadyWisconsin offers the following advice during Flood Safety Awareness Week.

Turn around, don’t drown – Do not drive or walk through flooded areas. Just 6 inches of fast-moving water can knock over an adult, while 12 inches can carry away a small car. Even if the water isn’t moving, floodwaters can conceal damage to pavement or other hazards that may be lurking beneath the surface. If you encounter floodwaters, find a different route.

Know your flood risk – Do you live in a flood plain, have a basement or live near a source of water? Those are all things to consider when examining the potential for flooding on your property. Plan with your family for what you will do if the floodwaters begin to rise.

Make improvements to protect your property – If you have gutters ensure they are kept clean and the downspouts are directing water away from your foundation. Repair cracks in your foundation and improve your grading so water flows away from your house. Cover window wells to keep water from filling them. Install safety valves on pipes bringing water into your home to help guard against backups.

Purchase flood insurance – Just an inch of water in a home can cause thousands of dollars in damage, which many homeowners and renter-insurance policies will not cover. Evaluate your current coverage and consider purchasing a flood-insurance policy. Most flood coverage takes effect 30 days after purchase, so don’t wait until there’s a risk of flooding to act.

Visit www.floodsmart.gov for more information.

Visit readywisconsin.wi.gov for tips on emergency preparedness.