Nearly every day of the year, flooding and flood waters impact cities across America. Fast-moving flood waters are dangerous and unpredictable. Floods don’t have to be as severe as those in Mumbai or Houston to damage property and threaten lives. Just six inches of fast-moving water can knock down an adult and it takes a mere 12 inches of rushing water to carry away a small car. Two feet of fast-moving water is enough to carry away any vehicle. Natural disasters will continue to occur, but you can take measures to protect yourself, your family and community. Here are some important tips to keep safe from the risks and dangers of flooding.
Be Aware: Though floods can occur any time of year, the wet seasons in your region create the highest risk of flooding. Be aware of the timing of those seasons and prepare yourself.
Turn Around, Don’t Drown®: Don’t drive or walk during a threatened flood. Stay put. The majority of people who drown in floods are driving their cars in flood waters. Vehicles often get dragged downstream, and those inside cannot get out. If they do, they find that they can’t swim in the fast-moving waters. If you’re already in a car, abandon it immediately. Avoid driving after a flood, as roads may be dangerously weakened by floodwaters and unsafe to navigate.
Don’t Walk: The second most dangerous thing you can do during a flood is walk in flood waters. Just six inches of moving water can topple an adult. After a flood, downed power lines may electrically charge standing waters, so don’t assess damage until you are advised that it’s safe.
Stay on High Ground: If you’re out and happen to be in the path of a threatened flash flood – which is a terrifying water surge that arises out of nowhere – move to safe, higher ground so that you aren’t swept away.
Stay Connected: Use your TV, radio, phone or computer to stay on top of emergency weather updates and instructions. Listen to the news for advice on when it’s safe to venture out of your house and to drink tap water.
Stay Stocked: Make sure you have enough water and food to survive a few weeks post flood. Put together a safety kit with a flashlight, batteries, cash and first aid supplies.
Keep Your Home Safe: Bring in outdoor furniture, which can become hazardous in a storm or flood. Disconnect electrical appliances in your house to avoid electrocution. Construct barriers to keep floodwaters from entering your home and seal walls to avoid seepage. You may have to turn off your power at the main source to prevent explosions or fires.
If you live in an area that’s prone to frequent flooding or exposed to hurricanes, consider purchasing flood insurance for your property.
Pets: In any kind of inclement or extreme weather, all pets should be brought indoors. If you’re directed to evacuate, do so immediately, and take your pets with you.
Evacuate If Advised: Have a bag packed just in case you need to leave your home. There’s no glory in staying home to face a flood if you can stay at a shelter. Only return home when it’s safe.
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Safety toolkits from ready.gov/floods:
- Flood Safety Social Media Toolkit (toolkit)
- National Weather Service Weather Ready Nation Spring Safety Outreach Materials (link)
- American Red Cross (link)
- The National Insurance Program (link)
- When the Cloud Forms (video)
- How to Prepare for a Flood (PDF)
- Flood Playbook (PDF)
- Flood Creative Materials (PDF)