Flooding is one of the most expensive types of natural disasters in the United States. It can damage homes, ruin belongings and leave behind dangerous mold. The good news is that flooding can be prevented with proper home flood protection, which includes knowing what steps to take before a storm hits and how to protect your home against rising water levels.

The first step in flood protection for homes is finding out how likely it is that your house will be affected by flooding. You can do this by entering your address on FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center and looking at your flood zone designation. If your house is in a blue zone, with a zone name beginning with A or V, you have a 1% annual chance of significant flooding and should take extreme precautions to avoid flood damage and purchase homeowner’s insurance.

If your house is in a yellow zone, you have a moderate risk of flooding and should still take precautions to avoid flood damage. If you’re thinking of buying a home in this zone, check the flood history of the area and talk to neighbors about any problems they’ve had with flooding.

Once you know your home’s flood zone designation, work with your local government and insurance provider to learn about the region’s flood history and what measures have been taken to reduce the risk of flooding. You may also be able to get help making your home more flood-resistant with FEMA’s Flood Mitigation Assistance program.

Coastal flooding is another serious concern for homeowners, as a storm surge can cause ocean water to push inland and reach your home. You can minimize your flood risk by locating your home above the flood level and ensuring that all of your doors and windows are properly sealed and anchored.

You can also protect your home from flooding by ensuring that your downspouts are properly directing rainwater away from your foundation. It’s also a good idea to have an emergency flood plan in place, including a list of local disaster and emergency contacts, your home’s flood risk and evacuation routes.

Even if your home isn’t in a high-risk flood zone, it’s still a good idea to buy homeowner’s insurance because most standard home policies do not cover flood damage. Homeowners who purchase flood insurance can also get financial assistance to make their homes more flood-resistant through FEMA’s Flood Mitigation Assistance grant program. The money can be used for things like elevating a house and installing storm shutters. FEMA also offers free, in-person workshops to teach people how to prepare for flooding events and reduce their risks.