Floods are one of the most costly and destructive natural disasters. A tremendous threat to both human life and property, floods occur in nearly every part of the world. 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 Prepared: Determine when your area (city or state) runs the highest risk of flooding and make sure you’re prepared during those seasons. Stay tuned into your TV, radio, phone or computer for emergency weather updates and warnings. Make sure you have enough water, non-perishable food, batteries, flashlights, cash and first aid supplies to survive an extended time without power. Be cautious and follow instructions from authorities for when it’s safe to venture out after a flood.
Protect Your House and Pets: Bring in outdoor furniture, which can be a hazard 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 should be kept indoors and take them with you if you evacuate.
Turn Around, Don’t Drown®: This simple rule reminds us not to head out during the threat of flood. The majority of people who drown in floods are driving their cars in flood waters. Vehicles often get dragged downstream, and those inside can’t 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 in Water: Avoid proximity to any standing or moving water. As mentioned, 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’re advised that it’s safe.
Flash Floods: A flash flood is a surge of water that comes out of nowhere and can turn a dry strip of land into a raging river. If you’re warned of a flash flood, immediately move to higher ground.
Flood Insurance: If you live in an area with frequent flooding, purchase flood insurance. Each year in the U.S., floods cause nearly $6 billion in damages.
Finally, if you’re advised to evacuate, don’t hesitate. Find a shelter or a location outside the evacuation zone. Pack a bag, valuables and your pets, and only return home when authorities advise that it’s safe.
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)
- National Creative Resources (PDF)