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WITHSTANDING THE WAVES
A GUIDE TO FLOOD SAFETY

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A USUAL RAINSTORM?

A group of clouds float through a hazy afternoon sky. Rainfall is expected, but a local meteorologist isn’t alarmed. “It’s a usual rainstorm,” she reports on the 5 o’clock news. She mentions the possibility of flooding near lakes, rivers, and dams, but says it’s unlikely. Steady rain turns into downpour. Within hours, water starts accumulating on city streets. Soon there’s a flash flood watch, quickly followed by a flash flood warning. Floods are unpredictable, and they develop quickly. Water levels remain low, so residents are skeptical of the dangers. But local news outlets are beginning to report emergency situations. Rescue teams are deployed to help people who’ve become stranded in homes and vehicles. Thankfully, there are no fatalities.

PUBLIC ENEMY #1

Floods are the most common natural disaster, and they cause the most weather related deaths in the United States. They can occur in any city or state, but areas that are low-lying, near water or dams are at greater risk. Higher elevation might mitigate threats, but won’t prevent an incident.

Flood related deaths are avoidable. Nearly half of flash-flood fatalities are vehicle-related. Never attempt to drive during or after a flood. If a flood is imminent, EVACUATE IMMEDIATELY.

EMERGENCY KIT

It’s best to always be prepared with emergency kits. Make sure to include the following items:

  1. Battery powered weather radio, flashlights and extra batteries
  2. First aid kit with medicine, bandages, etc.
  3. Food, water (3 gallons per person, per day is recommended) and non-perishable goods
  4. Additional clothing and personal hygiene necessities
  5. All important personal documents, cash, credit cards, and checkbook
  6. Contact information for FEMA, fire department, police, and other emergency response teams

BEFORE A FLOOD

Don’t Neglect the Prep

Floods are stressful, and they present victims with challenges that linger after clouds and rain disappear. It’s important to plan ahead how your family will deal with an event if it ever occurs. Here are some steps you can take to prepare yourself in case of a flood.

  1. Map out two escape routes that your family can take, and mark areas on the route to be avoided.
  2. Check your insurance plans once a year to make sure your house and cars are covered; flood damage is costly.
  3. Reach out to local emergency groups for tips on constructing protective structures.

Emergency response teams place resources in cities to aid in the recovery process. Often they’re able to provide food, shelter, and goods. Your city will also let you know how probable flooding is in your neighborhood.

DURING A FLOOD

Floods can develop within hours of a rainstorm—and once water accumulates, severe flash floods occur in a matter of minutes. If a flash flood happens without warning and you’re trapped, the following steps will keep you safe:

  1. Seek shelter at the highest point of your house.
  2. Don’t drive through flooded roads; a car can be whisked away in as little as two feet of water.
  3. If you’re in a vehicle, safely park away from water and get to higher ground.
  4. Do not attempt to walk through streams or flooded roads; six inches of water is enough to knock an adult off their feet.
  5. Listen to emergency weather reports.

Remember: Most flood related deaths are avoidable. Nearly half of flash-flood fatalities are vehicle-related. Never attempt to drive during or after a flood.

AFTER A FLOOD

Issues caused by floods can linger for days, weeks, and sometimes years. It’s important to be aware of problems that arise after a flood.

  1. Look out for mudslides, power outages, fallen trees, and scattered debris.
  2. Expect damages to result in store closures.
  3. If you come in contact with flood water, wash your hands immediately.
  4. Rid your home of carpet and any belongings that have been soaked in flood water.
  5. If appliances are wet, turn off your electricity until they dry out. Some appliances can shock you even after they’re unplugged.
  6. Don’t use affected appliances unless they’ve been cleaned and dried.
  7. Check the home for gas leaks; don’t light a stove top or pilot light until you’re sure a leak isn’t present.
  8. Use power generators outdoors to avoid deadly carbon monoxide.

RESOURCES FOR FLOOD VICTIMS

Red Cross
Federal Emergency Management System (FEMA)
USA.Gov - Disasters and Emergencies
USA.Gov - Water Resource
National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)

FAST FACTS

  • Flash flooding can bring walls of water from 10 to 20 feet high.
  • A 100-year flood means there’s 1% chance that a flood will occur in any given year.
  • Flooding is caused by spring thawing (snow and frozen grounds melting), heavy rains, snow melt runoffs, and mudflows.

SOURCES