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Prepare for a Flood

Flooding is a threat to all of us nearly every day of the year. Some can develop slowly during an extended period of rain, or in a warming trend following a heavy snow. Others, such as flash floods, can occur quickly, even without any visible signs of rain.

Be prepared for flooding no matter where you live, but particularly if you are in a low-lying area, near water or downstream from a dam. Even a very small stream or dry creek bed can overflow and create flooding.

If you know what to do before, during, and after a flood, you can increase your chances of survival.

Gearing up

  • Turn on your TV/radio. You will receive the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.
  • Make a flood emergency plan for the relevant type/s of local flood risk with plans such as evacuation, shelter, locations for high ground or inland.
  • Build or restock your emergency preparedness kit, including a minimum of 3 days of food and water, flashlight, batteries, cash, and first aid supplies.

Flood warning

  • Listen to area radio and television stations and a NOAA Weather Radio for possible flood warnings and reports of flooding in progress.
  • Be prepared to evacuate immediately if directed to do so.
  • If a flood or flash flood warning is issued for your area head for higher ground or inland.
  • Stay away from floodwaters. If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, stop, turn around and go another way. Six inches of swiftly moving water can sweep you off of your feet.
  • If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
  • Avoid walking or driving through flood waters.
  • Keep children out of the water.

After a flood

  • Return home only when officials have declared the area safe.
  • Before entering your home, look outside for loose power lines, damaged gas lines, foundation cracks or other damage.
  • Parts of your home may be collapsed or damaged. Approach entrances carefully.
  • Watch out for wild animals, especially poisonous snakes that may have come into your home with the floodwater.
  • If you smell natural or propane gas or hear a hissing noise, leave immediately and call the fire department.
  • If power lines are down outside your home, do not step in puddles or standing water.
  • Keep children and pets away from floodwater.
  • Make sure your food and water are safe before eating, drinking or washing.
  • Do not use water that could be contaminated.
  • Photograph damage to your property for insurance purposes.

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