A flash flood is the swiftest, fastest type of flood. The rapidmoving waters are very dangerous. Flash flooding is the leadingcause of weather-related deaths in the United States -approximately 200 deaths per year.
Flash floods occur through torrential rainstorms and can developin just a few hours or even a matter of minutes.
Flash floods can also occur after a rain event, or after a damor levee failure, or following a sudden release of water held by anice or debris jam, and flash floods can catch people unprepared.You will not always have a warning that these deadly, sudden floodsare coming. So if you live in areas prone to flash floods, plan nowto protect your family and property.
What to Do Before Flooding Occurs
• Develop an evacuation plan. Everyone in your familyshould know where to go if they have to leave. Trying to make plansat the last minute can be upsetting and create confusion.
• Discuss floods with your family. Everyone should knowwhat to do in case all family members are not together. Discussingfloods ahead of time helps reduce fear and anxiety and letseveryone know how to respond.
• Keep insurance policies, documents, and othervaluables in a safe-deposit box.
• Avoid building in a floodplain unless you elevate andreinforce your home.
• Raise your furnace, water heater, and electric panelto higher floors or the attic if they are in areas of your homethat may be flooded.
• Install check valves in building sewer traps toprevent flood water from backing up into the drains of your home.As a last resort, when floods threaten, use large corks or stoppersto plug showers, tubs, or basins.
• Construct barriers such as levees, berms, and floodwalls to stop flood water from entering the building. Permission toconstruct such barriers may be required by local building codes.Check local building codes and ordinances for safety requirements.
• Seal walls in basements with waterproofing compoundsto avoid seepage through cracks.
• Consult with a construction professional for furtherinformation if these and other damage reduction measures can betaken. Check local building codes and ordinances for safetyrequirements.
• Contact your local emergency management office formore information on mitigation options to further reduce potentialflood damage. Your local emergency management office may be able toprovide additional resources and information on ways to reducepotential damage.
When a flood is possible (Flash flood watch)
• Be alert to signs of flooding, and if you live in aflood-prone area, be ready to evacuate at a moment's notice. Floodscan happen quickly and you may need to leave with little or nonotice.
• Follow the instructions and advice of localauthorities. Local authorities are the most informed about affectedareas. They will best be able to tell you areas to avoid.
If you live in a flood-prone area:
• Fill bathtubs, sinks, and plastic bottles with cleanwater. Water may become contaminated or service may be interrupted.
• Bring outdoor belongings, such as patio furniture,indoors. Unsecured items may be swept away and damaged by floodwaters.
• Move your furniture and valuables to higher floors ofyour home. If flood waters affect your home, higher floors are lesslikely to receive damage.
• If you are instructed by local authorities, turn offall utilities at the main power switch and close the main gasvalve. In some areas, local authorities may advise you to turn offutilities to prevent further damage to homes and the community.
• Get your preassembled disaster supplies ready. Youmay need to act quickly. Having your supplies ready will save time.
• Fill your car's gas tank, in case an evacuationnotice is issued. If electric power is cut off, gas stations maynot be able to operate pumps for several days.
• Be prepared to evacuate. Local officials may ask youto leave if they truly feel your home is at risk from flood waters.
• If you are stopping your vehicle, camp or park awayfrom streams and washes, particularly during threateningconditions. Flood waters can rise quickly and carry you or yourbelongings away.
• When in or along stream channels, be aware of distantevents, such as dam breaks or thunderstorms that may cause flashfloods in the area.
• Watch what's happening. Is the weather getting worse?What are other people doing? Should you be doing the same?
• Move your car to higher ground. It only takes twofeet of fast flowing water to wash your car away.
• Check on your neighbors. Do they need your help.
• Do as much as you can in daylight. Doing anything inthe dark will be a lot harder, especially if the electricity fails.
When a flash flood is happening (Flash flood warning)
• Use a NOAA Weather Radio or a portable,battery-powered radio (or television) for updated emergencyinformation. Local stations provide the best advice for yourparticular situation.
• If it has been raining hard for several hours, orsteadily raining for several days, be alert to the possibility of aflood. Floods happen as the ground becomes saturated.
• Listen for
distant thunder. In some types of terrain,runoff from a faraway thunderstorm could be headed your way.
• When there is water reaching across the road you aretraveling, turn around and find an alternate route. Vehicles areinvolved in nearly 80% of all flood deaths. A vehicle can get sweptdownstream in as little as eight inches of water and 24 inches ofwater can float most vehicles, even SUV's.
• Most flash floods occur in the evening or at nightwhen it is difficult to see the water over the road, so it isimportant to be extra vigilant during the later hours during astorm.
• Never cross a road on foot covered in water. It onlytakes six inches of water to knock a person down. At this point,you would be at the mercy of the current, and that is never a goodplace to be.
• If your vehicle stalls, get out and walk to higherground.
• Block doors and airbricks with sandbags orfloodboards. If you cannot get hold of sandbags improvise byfilling old pillowcases or carrier bags with earth or sand.
• Try and keep things warm and dry. A flood can lastlonger than you think and it can get cold. Take some warm clothesand blankets upstairs to a safe place. Take a thermos and floodsupplies too.
• If advised to evacuate, do so immediately. Move to asafe area before access is cut off by flood water. Evacuation ismuch simpler and safer before flood waters become too deep forvehicles to drive through.
• Follow recommended evacuation routes. Shortcuts oralternate, non-recommended routes may be blocked or damaged byflood waters.
• Leave early enough to avoid being marooned by floodedroads. Delaying too long may allow all escape routes to becomeblocked.
• Your disaster kit
• Your evacuation kit
• Sand bags
For after the flood, have the following supplies on hand:
• Scouring powder
• Rubber gloves
• Strong boots or heavy-soled shoes
• Tools(crowbar, hammer, screwdriver)
• Sponges and cloths
• Scrub brushes
• Throw-away containers for garbage, and container tocarry
from house to street
• Water hose
• Sponge mop or mop that is easily squeezed out
• Water hose
• Emergency building materials: plywood, plasticsheeting, lumber, nails
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