Keeping Your Family Safe During a Flash Flood

Posted: August 6, 2022 7:40 am

Flooding Causes more Damage than Hurricanes or Tornadoes

Flooding occupies a unique niche among disaster scenarios because it can occur quickly, and no region has immunity from flood consequences. Hurricanes and tornadoes cost Americans about $17 billion annually according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. This weather phenomenon actually causes 88 deaths each year, and the numbers are rising.

Surprising Facts About Floods

Flooding ranks as the most common natural disaster because they can occur any time of year without much notice. Global warming has increased the severity of thunderstorms, and even landlocked desert areas can receive devastating flood damage in just a couple of hours of heavy rain. Rainfall doesn’t cause all types of flooding: snow melt causes a surprising amount of damage.

Some of the more surprising facts about flooding include the following:

  • Flooding Has Many Causes
    Flooding can occur during spring melt, rainfall, flash floods and mudflows in all types of environmental conditions.
  • Floodplains Provide Protection
    Floodplains offer some protection against flooding by setting aside an area to absorb the flooding and return water to the wildlife environment.
  • 90% of Flooding Generates Disasters
    About 90% of all natural disasters declared by the president have some element of flooding.
  • Wetlands Save the United States About $30 Billion
    Natural wetlands save the United States an average of $30 a year in flood control costs by storing and releasing water. One acre of wetland could holds enough water to flood 13 homes.
  • Levees Fail Regularly
    The U.S. system of levees often fails spectacularly as it did during Hurricane Katrina. The United States has more than 100,000 miles of levees, and many were designed years ago and forgotten. About 40% of the population lives in an area subject to levee failure.

Climate change has increased the heaviest downpours by 20% over the last 50 years. This change alone will increase the nation’s floodplains by 40% to 45% over the next century.

Ways to Manage Yourself During a Flood

Flooding can result from natural and structure-related failures like storm surges, coastal storms, snow melt, overflowing dams or failure of a dam or levee. Sudden flash floods always threaten life, and even 6 inches of fast-moving water can knock a person to the ground. One critical protective measure is to activate weather-related alerts and pay attention to them.

After receiving a flood warning, it’s safest to move your family to higher ground unless you live somewhere in a high-ground location. However, once flooding turns into a flood-related emergency, you shouldn’t travel unless ordered to evacuate.

Driving Safety Tips During a Flood

If you receive an Emergency Alert System warning, follow any advice suggesting evacuation or moving to higher ground. Do not attempt to drive around any barriers because they were installed for keeping vehicles out of the area. It’s safest to avoid bridges that run over water because the water could rise suddenly and sweep your car away.

You should also avoid driving through high water even if you think it won’t be dangerous. One foot of moving water can lift a car, and you should stay inside the car if that happens. If water begins to rise inside the vehicle, you should get on the car’s roof.

Other Safety Tips During a Flood

Flood safety tips include recognizing dangerous situations and protecting priceless family mementos. Don’t wade through water, which could have dangerous debris. Once indoors, move to the highest area of your home, but don’t get trapped in an area with no exit.

Safety tips for flood survival include:

  • Make Sure You Have an Exit Plan
    Getting trapped indoors with rising water could be dangerous because water can become electrified. Make sure that you have an exit to get to the roof safely.
  • Store Valuables on the Highest Floor
    You should consider moving your treasured mementos and irreplaceable furniture to the highest area of your home. This recommendation includes families ordered to evacuate and those expected to remain in place.
  • Don’t Use Electricity in a Flooded Home
    You should disconnect your electrical breaker if leaving your home, and you shouldn’t use electricity if your home floods. Water touching live electrical outlets can cause electrocution or home fires.
  • Don’t Handle Wild Animals
    Wild animals might carry diseases or become aggressive because of unfamiliar circumstances. Consider anyone else’s pet a wild animal for your family’s safety.
  • Maintain A Weather Emergency Kit
    Packing and maintaining a weather emergency kit make good sense. If you don’t have a kit, you can download a complete list from doi.sc.gov. Highlights of the list for flood management include:
    • Fire extinguisher
    • First aid kit
    • Water supply of 2 gallons per day per person for 3 days
    • 3-day supply of non-perishable food
    • Dust mask
    • Feminine hygiene products
    • Flashlight and extra batteries
    • Matches kept in a waterproof container
    • Manual can opener
    • Duct tape
    • Wrench or pliers
    • Emergency contact information
    • Infant formula and diapers
    • Whistle for signaling
    • Important documents and account numbers
    • Per food and water
  • Wear Protective Clothing
    If you feel it’s absolutely necessary, brave the flood waters with extreme caution. Wear protective clothing, rubber boots and appropriate rainwater. Wear gloves in case you need to shift debris.
  • Develop an Emergency Plan
    You should have a well-considered plan that takes into account your risk of flooding, a way to maintain communications with family members and informing family members about how the plan works. Preparing family members to face the problems constructively reduces unnecessary stress.

Preparing for Flash Flood Proactively

You can reduce the risks of flash floods, which anyone can experience. One of the lesser known facts about floods is that 8 of 10 floods take place in areas away from the coast. Even deserts can flood from heavy rains, which are becoming more common because of global warming.

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