5 Essential Flash Flood Safety Tips

flash floodingThough tornadoes and hurricanes top the headlines, observing a few flash flood safety tips could actually save more lives. In an average year, over 125 people die in flash floods in the U.S.—nearly twice the fatalities due to tornadoes and hurricanes. A flash flood is the sudden inundation of a normally dry, low-lying area with fast moving, rapidly rising flood water. Typically, it follows intense rainfall. However, storm activity may occur miles from the area actually affected by flooding, which may remain totally dry until a surging wall of water strikes, often with only brief warning.

No region is totally immune to the damage and danger posed by this extreme weather phenomenon. Here are five flash flood safety tips to keep in mind:

  1. Know Your Risk. Find out in advance if your home is located in a low-lying area susceptible to flash flooding under certain weather circumstances. Know where the nearest higher ground is located and the safest, most direct route to reach it.
  2. Get Ready To Go. If a flash flood watch is posted by the National Weather Service, prepare to evacuate. Remaining at home will not be a safe option in most cases. Stay tuned to local media and/or NOAA emergency radios for updates.
  3. Act Fast. If a flash flood warning is announced, evacuate to higher ground without delay. You do not have time to make efforts to preserve property or possessions.
  4. “Turn Around, Don’t Drown.” During evacuation, do not drive or walk through flood water. The current generated by a flash flood only two feet deep will float most vehicles off the road. If you are on foot, be aware that just six inches of swift-flowing flood water can knock you down.
  5. Stay Away Until It’s Safe. A flash flood may occur in a series of surges. Just because water temporarily recedes doesn’t mean it’s safe to return home yet. Wait until an official “All Clear” is issued by authorities before returning to low-lying areas.


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