Flood Safety Basics for National Flood Safety Awareness Week 2012

Photo by Val Huffman
When it rains, it pours! And when it pours, the water has to go somewhere, right? On average, flooding is the #1 cause of severe weather related deaths (more than tornadoes).  And most of those flood deaths are caused by vehicles swept away in moving waters!  Take a minute and educate your family about flood risks (especially younger drivers). 

Avoid Flooded Roads and Moving Water
  • NEVER cross flood waters in ANY vehicle.  Although some trucks and SUVs may clear the water's surface, just a few inches of fast moving water can cause you to completely lose control of your vehicle.
  • Moving water may undermine roadways and bridges and leave invisible sinkholes in the pavement.
  • Water may cover moving or stationary debris and obstacles that have drifted onto the driving surface.
Don't Wade Out into Flood Water
  • As flood waters travel through communities they pick up contaminants, petroleum products, industrial chemicals, raw sewage, and other biological hazards.
  • Even in residential areas, submerged hazards like torn metal, chunks of concrete, broken glass, cabling and tree limbs may scrape, stab or snag your body.
  • Invisible currents or sinkholes pull victims down under the water.
Know Your Neighborhood's Flood Risks
  • Any low lying area, relative to the area around it, can be prone to flooding.  Even homes and roads far from a floodplain may be prone to flash flooding.
  • Flash floods are quick and violent -- rolling boulders, collapsing homes and buildings, and pulling down trees, washing out bridges and roadways, and pushing victims downstream.
  • Although thunderstorms cause most flash floods, levy and dam failures can also produce flash flooding.
  • Some floods are slower and more predictable, often caused by prolonged heavy rains, spring thaw and tropical storms.
  • New areas prone to flooding may develop unexpectedly with new construction, land development and natural phenomena like wildfires and drought.
Reduce Your Risk of Flood Losses with Flood Mitigation and Preparation
  • Talk to your insurance agent about your specific risks and needs for flood insurance.
  • Don't build in floodplains.  Elevate and reinforce homes built in high risk areas.
  • In flood prone areas, elevate your furnace, water heater, and electrical panel.
  • Install "check valves" to keep flood water from backing up into your home.
Keep Your Family Prepared for Floods and Any Emergency
  • Build a personalized emergency kit for home, work, and the car.  Include items you'll need to stay healthy for at least 72 hours, including a flashlight, extra batteries, and medications.
  • Develop your family's communications plan.  Make certain everyone knows when, where and how to check in after an emergency.  Include multiple ways to contact one another, and don't forget an out of town contact.
  • Stay alert to risks, emergencies and preparedness steps using radio, television, weather radio, texting, social media, smart phone apps, useful websites, newspaper and other local resources.
For more detailed information about floods and practically every other hazard go to Ready.gov.
You can find river levels and various flood advisories at noahwatch.gov.

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