During dry times, it's easy to forget that many of us live in or near flood zones.
This is National Flood Awareness Week. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, floods are the second-most common and widespread of all natural disasters, affecting homeowners in all 50 states year-round. Spring can be prime flood time, triggered by post-winter snow thaws, spring rains or heavy thunderstorms.
Get prepared for such a soggy disaster with these tips from FEMA and Generac Power Systems, makers of portable generators:
Develop a family emergency plan. Map out and practice a flood evacuation route with your family. Know safe routes from home, work and school that are on higher ground, away from creeks or other places where water may rise.
Put together an emergency kit with basic disaster supplies including: first aid kit; bottled drinking water; nonperishable food items; manual can opener; battery-powered or hand-crank radio; flashlight and extra batteries; and waterproof or water-resistant clothing such as rubber boots and rain slickers.
Safeguard your possessions. Create a personal "flood file" containing information about all your possessions (and insurance policies) and keep it in a secure place, such as a safe deposit box or waterproof container.
Consider a portable or standby generator for your home in case of flood-related power outages.
Prepare your home in advance of wet weather by clearing debris from gutters and downspouts.
In the vegetable garden, plant seeds for beets, carrots, celery, Swiss chard, endive, fennel, jicama, leaf lettuce, mustard, radishes and turnips.
In the flower garden, plant aster, celosia, cosmos, larkspur, nasturtium, nicotiana, portulaca, salvia, snapdragon, verbena and zinnia.
In the greenhouse or indoors, start seed for summer and winter squash, peppers, eggplant and tomatoes. They'll be ready to transplant in late April or May.
Feed flowering shrubs, roses and berries with slow-release fertilizer as spring growth appears.
Check for aphids. They feast on that early spring growth. Knock them off tender green leaves and shoots with a strong blast of water from the hose. Or squirt those bugs with insecticidal soap. To make your own, add 1 tablespoon liquid soap (such as Dr. Bronner's Pure Castile Soap or Ivory dish soap) to 1 quart water. Put in spray bottle and shake before using.
Pull weeds now! Don't let them get growing.