A sinkhole swallows a home whole.
A sinkhole swallows a home whole.

It sounds like something out of a bad dream or an extreme weather news report: House Falls Into Sinkhole. Yet this geological hazard is a very real threat to our infrastructure and our homes. Sinkholes can wreak havoc on roads, drain water from streams and rivers and yes, they can swallow a home whole.

Fortunately, this disastrous event doesn’t always strike without warning. In fact, sinkholes leave telltale signs of their presence, sometimes well before they give way completely.

Here are some sinkhole warning signs you can look for on your property:

  • Cracks in foundations, floors, driveways and sidewalks
  • Cracks in your stucco or exterior block
  • Trees, shrubs or fence posts that have started to sag or slant off in abnormal directions
  • Windows and doors that no longer close properly, often caused by shifts in the home foundation
  • Exposed sections of foundation, exterior features and tree roots on your property
  • Depressions or dips in your yard
  • Sections of dying lawn or vegetation (caused by sudden depletion of water)
  • Sediment in the water supplying your house

The following states typically have the highest rate of sinkhole occurrence:

  • Alabama
  • Florida
  • Kentucky
  • Missouri
  • Pennsylvania
  • Tennessee
  • Texas

If you suspect your home is at risk of falling into a sinkhole, contact your insurance company. Make sure you keep your family away from the growing hole. You’ll want to be in touch with local officials or law enforcement to have the property or sinkhole roped off to prevent neighbors or others from mistakenly walking into the sinkhole.

If considerable damage has occurred to the home, vacate the property immediately and wait for word from a professional that it is safe to return for any valuables. Take the safe road here. No chances!

Sinkholes can pose a real threat to gas, water and electric lines. If any of these elements of your home are at risk, get in touch with the authorities immediately.