How To Avoid Flash Floods

At one time or another flash floods have occurred in every state in the continental United States.  If you live in a flood prone area you, of course, will have a greater risk of flash flooding.

Flash floods are very dangerous because they happen quickly and they may come without any warning.  A low lying area can flood after only a few hours of an intense heavy rainfall or after a few days of steady rain.

Flash floods happen where the ground is very dry like a desert, in an area where the rain runs into the sewer from the pavement and may back up and cause rising rushing water, and in low lying areas near bodies of water such as rivers, lakes or streams.

If it has been raining steadily and you are in a flood prone area, listen to  your local radio or TV station or a NOAA weather radio to keep aware of any dangers the rain may cause in your location.

If a flood is possible you will be issued a flood watch.  This does not mean it will flood.  It does mean conditions are right for a flood to happen.  Remember floods can happen very quickly.  With that in mind if you are issued a flood watch determine a plan of action for your family to move to higher ground.  You want to decide on a way to get to higher ground without going through low lying areas.  Be sure your emergency kit is stocked and readily available.  Be sure you have a full tank of gas in the event you need to evacuate.  Keep listening to the local weather.  Be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice.

If you are issued a flash flood warning it means a flash flood is either occurring or is imminent.  If this happens listen to your local news to determine if you need to evacuate and move to higher ground.

If you are at home bring in any outdoor furniture.  If possible move indoor furniture and valuables to the upper levels.  If the authorities instruct you to do so turn off all utilities at the main switch.  Fill sinks, bathtubs and bottles with clean water in case water becomes contaminated or service for water is disrupted.

If you are driving do not attempt to drive through flood water.  You have no way of knowing how deep the water might be. If you are going to stop and park do so away from any streams or washes.  It only takes two feet of rushing water to sweep a car away.  Never drive around barricades put there as a precaution for your protection.  Most flood deaths come from people either attempting to drive through the flood water or playing in the flood water.

Do not attempt to walk through flood water above  your ankles.  Even six inches of rushing water can knock you off your feet.

Since flash floods can happen anywhere at any time you need to be aware of any possible danger in your area when intense rainfall occurs.  Flash flooding usually occurs within six hours of a rain event or a flood may occur if debris causes a river or stream to overflow its banks.  Listen to your local weather reports or listen to  your NOAA weather radio if you suspect there is a danger from the weather.