Flash floods live up to their name in that they can build up in an instant, and cause monumental damage in a short amount of time – especially in low-lying areas, or those near larger rivers. It is important to take control of a situation and ensure that you and your family are safe during any kind of natural disaster, flash floods included. The following tips will give you an idea of what to do if a flash flood threatens your area.
1. Evacuate the Area
Under no circumstances should you or your family remain in the area during a flash flood. Once the waters begin to rise, there is a small window where evacuation is possible, and it is wise to take that opportunity. If evacuation is not possible, then move to higher ground so that you can avoid the rising waters and, hopefully, avoid getting swept away with the flood.
If you are approaching an area that is currently under a flash flood in progress, do not attempt to drive or walk through the flood waters. Just six inches of moving water is strong enough to knock you over and drag you along with the path of the flood. For cars, it takes only one foot for the same result.
2. Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Being aware of one’s surroundings can mean knowing what to do in case of flash flood, or knowing where not to be in case of a possible flash flood. When camping, avoid setting up or parking too close to rivers, streams, or other bodies of water, especially if there is precipitation in the area. These bodies of water are prone to flash floods, especially during heavy rainfalls, and avoiding staying too close to them is a simple way to be proactive about your safety.
At home, it is a good idea to know the geography of the area so that you know how often they are likely to hit and what to do in case of flash flood. If your home is in a low valley or settled near a body of water (be it a reservoir, lake, river, etc.), there is a good chance that your home and family will be in danger of experiencing a flash flood. Educate yourself and understand what to expect if the worst is to happen.
3. Prepare Beforehand
One the best methods to prepare for any kind of natural disaster is to devise a plan of action before disaster strikes and make sure that everyone in your household knows the plan and what to do in case of flash flood. Know where to go to reach high ground and have an emergency kit packed and ready (more on this below). Remember, you may only have minutes before the flood hits and then grows too powerful to evacuate safely. If you and your family know what to do in case of flash flood before disaster hits, you are more likely to get to safety and stay there.
If you have foreknowledge of a possible flood in your area, you can take steps to prepare your home for the onslaught. Put outdoor furniture inside and move what you can to the highest points in the home. Make sure that there are no electrical devices plugged in and if necessary, know where the emergency water and gas shut off valves in your house are located if you need to shut them down.
4. Flood Emergency Kit
In the even of a natural disaster like a flood, there is no way to know beforehand how long you may be out of your home or if you will have access to potable water or other essentials. Therefore, it is always wise to have an emergency kit packed and ready to go; you and your family should not waste time during an evacuation. A solid emergency kit might contain the following:
- Potable water.
- First aid kit.
- Flashlight (with extra batteries).
- Food (anything that can survive without refrigeration).
Whatever you believe might be necessary for your survival can be added to this list. But be wary of packing too much; the idea is to have a kit that can be easily and quickly gathered during an emergency.
5. Have a Family Disaster Plan
In addition to making sure that everyone in your family knows what to do during a flood, also ensure that, in case you were to get separated during an emergency situation, that each member of the family knows where to go and what to do on their own. Figure out a good meeting place for after the flood that you all can gather at, in case of separation. And, of course, make sure that you and everyone one else in the household have some way to contact each member of the family.
6. Don’t Be Hasty
Once the rain has stopped, there is no doubt that you will want to get back home as quickly as possible to assess damage and begin possible repairs. However, returning home too early may either put you right back in danger or interfere with rescue operations. Monitor local radio stations and wait for local authorities to give the go ahead before returning home.
7. Use Caution with Flood Damaged Buildings
When you are able to return home, remember that the foundations of your home and other buildings may have been seriously compromised during the flood. Take care when entering any building, and if you feel that it is not safe, leave immediately. Check for gas leaks, broken utility lines, or electrical damage and report these issues to the proper authorities. No matter what, be aware and take care.
This is not an exhaustive list of tips what to do in case of flash flood, but it is a good place to start. If you have experience with flash floods, share your emergency plan and how you prepare yourself and your family for sudden disasters.