Flooding is caused by major storms and rising water levels, causing rivers, lakes, and other waterways to overflow. Especially susceptible areas include valleys, plains, swamplands, and anywhere near large bodies of water.
FLOOD SAFETY TIPS
Continue to listen to the radio or television for information. Know the difference between a flood “watch” and “warning.” A “flood watch“ means a flood is possible in your area. A “flood warning” means flooding is already occurring or will occur soon—and you should be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice.
Have an emergency survival kit on hand with three days of supplies for everyone in the household, including water (one gallon per person per day), non-perishable food, a flashlight, battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra batteries, a first aid kit, a 7-day supply of medications, a multi-purpose tool, sanitation and personal hygiene items, and copies of important personal documents.;
Be aware that flash flooding can occur. If there is any possibility of a flash flood, move immediately to higher ground. Do not wait for instructions to move. See our article on predicting flash floods.
Be aware of streams, drainage channels, canyons, and other areas known to flood suddenly. Flash floods can occur in these areas with or without such typical warnings as rain clouds or heavy rain.
If you have time, secure your home. Bring in outdoor furniture. Move essential items to an upper floor.
Turn off utilities at the main switches or valves if instructed to do so. Disconnect electrical appliances. Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.
When a flood “warning” is issued for your area, evacuate. Head for higher ground and stay there.
Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can make you fall. If you have to walk in water, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
“Turn around, don’t drown!” If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, stop, turn around and go another way.
Keep children out of the water.
Driving in Floods
If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way.
Do not drive into flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely. You and the vehicle can be quickly swept away.
Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars causing loss of control and possible stalling.
One foot of water will float many vehicles.
Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles including sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and pick-up trucks.
After a Flood
Listen for news reports to learn whether the community’s water supply is safe to drink.
Avoid floodwaters; water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline, or raw sewage. Water may also be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.
Avoid moving water.
Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded. Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car.
Stay away from downed power lines and report them to the power company.
Return home only when authorities indicate it is safe.
Stay out of any building if it is surrounded by floodwaters.
Use extreme caution when entering buildings; there may be hidden damage, particularly in foundations.
Service damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pits, and leaching systems as soon as possible. Damaged sewage systems are serious health hazards.
Clean and disinfect everything that got wet. Mud left from floodwater can contain sewage and chemicals.