Flood safety tips

Posted May 27, 2011

A flash flood watch means conditions are favorable for a flood in your area. A flash flood warning means flooding is imminent and/or taking place in your area.

What to expect from a watch or warning:

  • Be alert. If it has been raining hard for several hours, or steadily raining for several days, be alert to the possibility of a flood.
  • Be prepared to evacuate. Identify places to go (friend's home, shelter, etc., if needed). If told to leave, do so quickly.
  • Fill your car's gas tank. Prepare a road map with two alternate routes marked.
  • Listen to local radio or television stations for current weather information.

What to do when driving or walking in flood areas:

  • Never walk or drive in the flood waters. Many people are killed by driving or walking on roads and bridges that are covered by water. Even though the water might look only inches deep, it could be much deeper and with have strong currents. It only takes 2 feet of water to carry away a car and 6 inches of swiftly moving water will sweep a person off his feet.
  • Never underestimate the swiftness of the water. Flooded creeks and streams are unpredictable. Even though the surface water may be smooth, the water is moving very fast.
  • Don't assume your vehicle is safe. High water in streets and intersections will quickly stall motor vehicles. Most trucks, four-wheel drives, and sports utility vehicles also are susceptible to being swept away by high water.
  • Find an alternate route around the flooded area. If you are approaching a flooded roadway, turn around and take an alternate route, even though vehicles in front of you may have passed through the high water.
  • Never stay with your car in a flooded area. If your car stalls, abandon it immediately and climb to higher ground. Many deaths have resulted from attempts to move stalled vehicles.
  • Never let children play near creeks or storm drains when the water is rising or high. Swimming skills have nothing to do with surviving a flooded creek or stream.
  • Beware of items being washed downstream. Debris or garbage in the water may include tires, shopping carts, furniture etc. These items can easily injure or trap a person under water.
  • Flood time is not a time for play. Flooded streams and rivers are not safe for recreational boating. Many canoeists and kayakers have been rescued from dangerous rapids in flood-swollen streams and rivers.
  • Stay away from storm drains, irrigation ditches, creek and river areas.
  • Barricades are for your protection. Do not drive through them.

How to prepare for a flood:

  • Plan ahead. Prepare a family disaster plan.
  • Purchase insurance coverage. Before it rains, check to see if you have insurance that covers flooding. Keep insurance policies, documents and other valuables in a fire proof/water proof box.
  • Assemble an emergency/disaster kit
  • If a Flood Watch is issued, more your furniture and valuables to higher floors of your home. Fill your car's gas tank in case an evacuation notice is issued.
  • If a Flood Warning is issued, listen to local radio or television stations for information and advice. It told to evacuate, do so as soon as possible. Follow recommended routes. Shortcuts may be blocked.

(Flood safety tips courtesy of the Durham Fire Department)


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