Whether caused by flash floods or leaky pipes, water damage is a year-round concern for not only homeowners, but also hospitals, schools, and businesses in the U.S.
Water Events That Cause Flooding
April showers bring May flowers — but they also bring flood season. Flood season in the U.S. lasts nearly half the year, beginning in late spring and continuing through early fall. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that 75% of annual flooding occurs between those times.
The most dangerous kind of floods are flash floods, which accumulate within a few hours and are extremely hazardous for those outside driving or working. Most flash floods or emergency flood warnings occur when winter snow melts especially quickly or during heavy spring rains. This is because the ground is either still frozen or already saturated and can no longer absorb any more water, which leads to rivers, ponds, and other water retention systems overflowing with excess rainwater.
In addition to natural flooding events, buildings are at risk for potential water pipe problems. Extreme temperatures, both hot and cold, are responsible for extreme duress on pipes. During the winter, pipes are susceptible to freezing, which can cause them to burst. In the warmer months, water usage is heavier and puts extra strain on the pipes, which can also lead to bursting or leaking. The most dangerous part is that leaks and bursts are not always immediately noticeable, meaning damage might build before anyone is able to track or stop the spread.
The True Cost of Water Damage
The U.S. government reports that property damage costs related to flooding have surpassed $155 billion in the last decade. The average commercial flood damage claim was $89,000 — a steep price to pay for insufficient protection.
Unfortunately, recent rain data could make these problems worse. 2019 was considered the second-wettest year ever in U.S. history, with almost 50 inches of precipitation falling in Chicago alone. These rains were prolific throughout the entire Midwest, and accounted for $6.2 billion of the national flood damage costs that year. As climate change continues to wreak havoc on typical weather patterns, seasons like this seem to be increasingly common.
In perilous flooding situations, everyone is affected. When school buildings experience damage, students and staff lose space to teach or learn, meaning that precious time out of the school year is lost to rebuilding or relocating. In hospitals and pharmacies, loss or contamination of vital resources like patient care areas and medicines is devastating for patients and staff who end up displaced and without their necessary materials. All of these events spell trouble for facilities that can’t afford to postpone daily schedules.
The silver lining to all this doom and gloom is that there are ways for institutions to protect themselves from being washed away.
What You Can Do To Mitigate Disaster
There are steps you can take to prevent your facility from flooding. For one, facility managers should regularly check that pipes and heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems are working properly and in good condition. Older pipes are more susceptible to breaking or leaking, but all pipes are in danger if conditions are bad.
Primex offers OneVue Sense™ Water Leak Sensors that allow users to monitor high-risk areas, some of which may be hidden behind doors, walls, or ceilings. Staff will receive a notification as soon as even the smallest amount of water is detected. Probes that connect to sensors form a grid network on the floor or surface, communicating with each other and with users so they stay current on the status of valuable pipes and systems.
You can also reinforce communication channels and supplement your emergency action plan by installing the OneVue Notify® InfoBoard solution, which utilizes critical alert and customizable messaging to make sure your employees and building patrons are aware of emergencies and other information. Users or administrators are able to send messages throughout the building as soon as an event occurs. This feature ensures that in the case of a crisis, like a flash flood, people indoors know to evacuate or act in a timely and appropriate fashion.
After a Midwest health system experienced a catastrophic flooding event, they realized how extensive water damage could be. Building administrators decided they needed to take steps to prevent future events, so they turned to Primex. By installing and utilizing the OneVue Sense Water Leak Sensors, they effectively detected two more incidents before they could become disastrous — no repairs necessary.
Water damage can be expensive and flood season is increasingly longer and more intense. To stay vigilant and be proactive about water leaks and flash flooding, consider Primex OneVue environmental monitoring solutions.