6 Important Flood Safety Tips Everyone Should Know

In the U.S., more people are killed every year due to floods than the total of all deaths from hurricanes, tornadoes and lightning. Flooding is statistically the most common natural disaster and no locale is totally immune from the potential danger. Because the right time to familiarize yourself with the hazards and make plans to stay safe is before disaster strikes, here are six flood safety tips:

  • Know the risks. Find out if you live in a flood-prone zone. FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) provides online flood risk maps for most communities in the U.S. With this information, you can estimate the risk of flooding from local sources and plan evacuation routes if the need ever arises. 
  • Keep informed. If conditions that may trigger flooding occur—such as severe storms or an overflowing river—monitor local radio broadcasts for updates. Keep all occupants of the house informed of the threat and prepared to evacuate, if necessary.
  • Leave if you are advised to. If evacuation is recommended by authorities, leave your home, ASAP.  Staying put in the house will do nothing to prevent the damage if flooding strikes and only exposes occupants to increased dangers.  
  • Stay out of moving water. Don’t walk or wade into moving floodwater during evacuation. Just six inches of water with typical flood current can knock you off your feet. If you encounter flooded roads while driving, stop, turn around or back up, and take a different route.  
  • Don’t come home until it’s safe. Monitor radio broadcasts for updates that indicate it’s safe to return. Flash floods are often a delayed effect that occurs following severe weather events. Just because it stops raining and the sun is out, don’t assume the threat is over.
  • Be aware of dangers at home. If you return to a flooded or wet home, don’t enter the house if electrical power is still active. Contact an electrician to disconnect utility power at the meter. Floodwater is toxic, so avoid direct skin contact. Snakes and other vermin may also be present in a flooded structure.

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