Flood Safety Tips

April 8, 2021

Spring showers bring May flowers – and along with it, the potential for inclement wet weather.

It’s no secret that rain and thunderstorms are common this time of year. However, we often forget hard rain that falls in a short amount of time can oversaturate the ground, raising water levels to dangerous limits and creating life-threatening floods and drowning risks.

According to the National Weather Service, flash floods are the second highest weather-related killer – behind heat – in the United States. They can happen within minutes or hours of heavy rainfall and can be powerful enough to knock you off your feet or even sweep your car away.

As little as six inches of fast-moving water can knock you down, while two feet of flooding is enough to float most vehicles. Both scenarios present a drowning risk. Torrents of fast-moving water can also contain contaminants and dangerous amounts of debris with the potential to cause injuries.

Ready yourself in the event flooding occurs by reviewing these emergency safety tips:

  • Determine if your home is located in a flood plain. The Federal Emergency Management Agency website offers a Flood Map Service Center* with a free assessment tool to help analyze risk based on your home address.
  • Have an emergency plan in place, in the event flooding occurs. If there is a chance of flash flooding, move to higher ground immediately. If trapped in a building, go to its highest floor.
  • Never drive through waters of unknown depths. Rushing, deep water can flip your vehicle. Remember, don’t drown – turn around!
  • Never drive through an area that has been barricaded or roped off as a safety precaution.
  • Do not drive over bridges that span fast moving water or floodwaters, as the bridge may be unstable and can wash away.
  •  When driving, pull over to a safe area, exit your vehicle and relocate to high ground. If flood waters are too high to allow safe exit of the vehicle, stay inside until help arrives.
  • If rapidly rising water enters your vehicle, do not stay inside. Unbuckle your seat belt and exit through the window as quickly as possible. Seek refuge on the roof or float with the current to a safe area. Exit the water immediately.
  • During storms, watch your phone or listen to the radio for incoming severe weather alerts indicating the possibility of flooding. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio or your local news station should provide access to the latest information. Smart phones are also configured to receive emergency flood and flash flood warnings from the Wireless Emergency Alerts System.
  • Avoid camping or parking along rivers, streams or creeks during heavy rainfall. These areas can flood quickly with little warning.
  • Do not touch electrical equipment if it is wet or if you are standing in water. If it is safe to do so, turn off the electricity to prevent electric shock.
  • If time allows, tie down or bring in outdoor objects (patio furniture, children’s toys, trash cans, etc.) that could be swept away or damaged during flooding.
  • Discard any food products that have been in contact with flood water.

More information on how to safely prepare for flooding events is available on the NOAA website*.

*By clicking the links in this article, you are entering websites maintained by outside parties, which are entirely responsible for the sites’ content.