Flood Safety Tips

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Preparing for a flood is like preparing for an earthquake or other emergencies, but with the advantage of warnings ahead of time. 

Before a Flood – Prepare and Protect

  • Sign up for AlertSCC, the Santa Clara County emergency alert system, to receive emergency warnings on your mobile device, email or landline. AlertSCC can provide information and instructions in a variety of emergency situations, which may include:
    • Flooding, wildfires and subsequent evacuations
    • Public safety incidents, including crimes, that immediately affect your neighborhood
    • Post-disaster information about shelters, transportation, or supplies
  • Download the American Red Cross Flood app to get flood and flash flood watches and warning alerts for your location as well as flood safety and emergency preparedness tips.
  • Create an emergency kit and an emergency plan. Talk with family members about where to go and what to do during a flood emergency. Familiarize yourself with your child's school emergency plan. Identify a team of people with shared responsibility for watching out for an elderly individual. Decide in advance who will make contact before, during and after a disaster. The City of Santa Clara’s Emergency Preparedness Guide provides a useful checklist to get started.  
  • Download the ReadySCC app to your phone. The app allows you to set a meeting point for your family, list emergency contacts in and out of town, assign a caretaker for your pet and send status updates to your loved ones during an emergency. You can also get access to instructions for creating an emergency kit, including a shopping list. Another key feature includes advisories and alerts via push notifications. 
  • Prepare your house for a flood:
    • Buy flood insurance.  Whether you own or rent, flood insurance can protect you financially, in case you have to live somewhere else for a while or have to replace your damaged belongings. There are structure and content insurance policy, and content only insurance policy so you can choose what is best for your situation. 
    • Prevent localized flooding by keeping your gutters clear of debris. You can also get sandbags at the City Corporation Yard. Call (408) 615-3080 for more information. Check out the Santa Clara Valley Water District's Sandbag Guide for Homeowners to get the most protection for your house. 
    • Move insurance policies, documents and other valuables to a safe deposit box
    • Learn how to turn off utilities to your home and keep your car's gas tank full so you won't be stranded. 
    • Examine your house for cracks in foundation, exterior walls and small openings around pipes, and seal them.
    • Elevate important utility structures such as electrical panels, switches, sockets, wiring, appliances and heating systems.
  • If you want to know how to reduce or prevent possible flood damages to your property, the Department of Public Works can help by reviewing photos of your property and providing suggestions.  Contact Public Works at 408-615-3000 or engineering@santaclaraca.gov for more information on this free service or to make an appointment.  All building construction requires building permit and licensed engineer and/or contractor.  Suggestions provided by Public Works staff do not substitute building permit review process or plans prepared by a licensed engineer.  
  • Want to do more than putting together an emergency kit? The Santa Clara Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program is designed to help the citizens of Santa Clara to be self-sufficient after a major disaster. 

During a Flood

  • When a flood may occur, the City will warn citizens through distribution of advisory notices and emergency officials will visit each neighborhood that is threatened. Follow the directions provided via media and by the Police and Fire Departments to ensure that you are heading in the safest possible direction. 
  • To report life-threatening emergencies, call 9-1-1. 
  • To report emergencies involving City electric, water and sewer utilities, storm drains, or flooding, call (408) 615-5640. 
  • Santa Clara Valley Water District maintains ALERT gauge system that monitors streams, reservoirs and rainfall levels.
  • Be aware that flash flooding can occur and move immediately to higher ground.
  • Follow the Santa Clara Valley Water District and City of Santa Clara on Twitter or Facebook for up to date emergency information.
  • Tune to radio stations KCBS (740 AM) or KSJO (92.3 FM) for emergency information, traffic updates and instructions.
  • If advised to evacuate, do so immediately. Evacuation is easier and safer before floodwaters become too deep. Turn off utilities at the main switches or valves. Disconnect electrical appliances. Do not touch electrical equipment of you are wet or standing in water.
  • Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can make you fall. If you have to walk in water, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you and to aid in balance.
  • Do not drive into flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground. A foot of water will float many vehicles. Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles, including SUVs and pick-ups.

After a Flood

  • Listen for news reports on whether the community's water supply is safe to drink.
  • Avoid floodwaters. Water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline or raw sewage. Water may also be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.
  • Stay away from downed power lines and report them to Silicon Valley Power at (408) 615-5640.
  • Return home only when authorities indicate it is safe.
  • Never try to walk, swim, drive or play in floodwater.
  • Stay out of any building that is surrounded by floodwater. Use extreme caution when entering buildings; there may be hidden damage.
  • Clean and disinfect everything that got wet. Mud left from floodwater can contain sewage and chemicals.

For more information about the City's flood warning and emergency response plan, contact the City's Emergency Services Coordinator in the City's Fire Department at (408) 615-4900.

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