What Is a Flood Zone?

flood zone

Do you live in a flood zone? It’s a question many homeowners fail to ask until faced with a rising water line. 

However, nearly 13 million Americans live in a high-risk area for flooding. Everyone should consider the potential for natural disasters in their area and how to protect their property adequately.

With climate change increasing the frequency of natural disasters, it’s more important than ever to know whether your property is at risk. But what is a flood zone exactly?

In this article, you’ll learn the basics of a flood zone, where you can find codes to check your property’s risk level and the importance of understanding your risk before it’s too late. 

What Is a Flood Zone?

Warmer temperatures caused by global warming melt ice and snow in the Arctic. That eventually causes sea levels to rise. Simultaneously, warmer temperatures will cause more intense high winds and rain storms. 

The long-term catastrophic issue for humans is that this will cause a higher risk of flooding. It means frequent flooding and flash floods. 

A flood zone is a geographical area that government officials, including FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), have identified as being at increased risk of floods.

Land and weather patterns continuously change, and areas listed as flood zones may change over time. 

These areas, and the people and buildings in them, require extra protection from flooding. That includes floods from heavy rain, burst riverbanks, or extreme weather events. 

That’s something that insurance companies will need to know.

Most standard insurance won’t cover losses from flooding when you live in a flood-risk area, and you’ll need to purchase special flood insurance. Go to BetterFlood.com for more information on finding suitable insurance. 

Different Types of Flood Zones

Naturally, different geographical territories need different sorts of flood management. So you’ll find five different types of flood zones. 


As the name suggests, this flood zone is near a coastal area. Homeowners in this area are at risk of rising sea levels and tidal waves. They could see damage to life and property during a flood. 

Coastal Barrier

In addition to coastal zones, there are also areas known as coastal barrier resource zones. These barriers have special barrier protections due to their geological features, habitat, or ecosystems. 


River flooding zones will exist near rivers and other waterways.

They are vulnerable due to flooding, overflowing water, and burst river banks during heavy rains or melting snow. Rivers tend to be high-risk areas that are prone to regular flooding. 


Unfortunately, you could still sit in a flood zone if you live away from coasts and rivers. These inland zones are land areas prone to flooding during heavy and persistent rainfall or melting snow. 


A flash flood zone is probably the one that causes homeowners the most concern.

That’s because the speed makes it difficult to spot, so often, there is a lack of early warning. Water levels also rise so quickly that it is difficult to evacuate your home, causing a higher loss of life. 

How to Check if You Are in a Flood Zone

If you are worried about where you live, you can check online to find out if you live in a flood zone. It’s also something worthwhile if you’re considering buying a property.

First, head to the FEMA website. You’ll find a searchable flood zone map, and you can enter your address into the search bar. The map will highlight any area inside an official FEMA-designated flood zone. 

Sometimes, the map will have additional written information to help you determine if your property is inside the zone. However, you can contact your local planning agency if you are unsure how to find a flood zone by address.  

The Impact of Flood Zones on Homeowners

The impact of living in a flood zone can be significant. Floods increase the risk of property damage and can also cause health risks to homeowners. 

Buying in a flood-risk area could make it difficult for you to sell in the future, and these homes generally command a lower asking price. Furthermore, you’ll have the expense of flood zone insurance. 

However, many flood zone areas have higher protection from floods, and that’s improving all the time. So in the long term, you could potentially see an increase in property prices as the location becomes more desirable. 

Protecting Your Property From Flood Damage

If you live in a flood zone, there are lots you can do to protect your property. Here are some suggestions: 

  • Search for the best flood insurance deal to ensure you’re protected financially
  • Get a quote for elevating the structure of the building
  • Install flood vents
  • Install a foundation wrap
  • Install an automatic sump pump
  • Install a backflow valve
  • Construct or improve flood walls around the property to divert floodwaters
  • Add extra insulation
  • Raise storage and appliances off the ground
  • Keep important belongings in a waterproof container
  • Have sandbags ready for an emergency
  • Keep valuable belongings in high places in your home
  • Check the seals on windows and doors and use a waterproof sealant

If you are building a new property, get advice from a flood specialist. There are many ways to protect new constructions, such as using water-resistant material.

How to Stay Safe in a Flood Zone

Mark out your evacuation routes in an emergency, and always have at least two safe zones ready. If you’re new to the area, become familiar with the roads and pathways near your property. 

Keep emergency contact details on your phone and sign up for a flood and extreme weather alert system for your area. 

Finally, have an emergency bag packed and ready for an evacuation. Include a torch, blankets, water, food, medicines, and warm clothing. 

Never leave it too late to try and evacuate. If the weather worsens, don’t wait for external advice from officials. It’s always better to act early to protect yourself and your family. 

Keeping Safe from Floods

If you live in a flood zone, don’t despair. There are many practical ways to keep your home and family safe. Always ensure you have the right insurance if you experience any flood-related issues.

Protecting our environment from damage is the ultimate way to help prevent floods. So before you go, check out the latest articles in our sustainability section. 


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