Protect Your Family – Learn How to Stay Safe in a Flood


Plan | Take Emergency Action • Floods | Hurricanes

Why does it matter?

Flooding is one of the deadliest disasters and can happen anywhere it rains. That is why everyone should understand how to stay safe in a flood.

What do I need to know?

There are several types of flooding, but the most common are river floods, flash floods, and coastal floods. River floods occur when an inland water body, such as a river, lake, or stream, rises and overflows onto the surrounding banks and land. Flash floods happen after an extreme rainfall event creates a flood, and the water has nowhere to go and accumulates on the surface. Coastal floods occur when a storm surge causes the sea level to rise and flood the coastal areas, as in a hurricane or tropical storm.

How do I get started?

  • Pay special attention to the latest information when unusually heavy rains occur or are forecast, especially when the National Weather Service issues flash flood, riverine flood, or storm surge watches and warnings.
  • If flooding is expected or occurs, get to higher ground. Stay away from flood-prone areas, including dips, low spots, valleys, ditches, and washes.
  • Avoid flooded areas or those with rapid water flow. Do not attempt to cross a flowing stream. Remember, six inches of fast-flowing water can knock you off your feet.
  • Flooded roads could have significant damage hidden by floodwaters. NEVER drive through floodwaters, on flooded roads, or over bridges. Remember, it only takes two feet of water to lift and float most automobiles, even trucks, and SUVs.
  • Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams and washes, particularly when threatening conditions exist.
  • Do not allow children to play near high water, storm drains, or ditches.
  • Never drink or use floodwater as it is not clean and can carry many germs and toxins.
  • Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.
  • Remember, always heed the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) and National Weather Service flood safety warning, “Turn Around, Don’t Drown!”
  • Purchase and monitor a NOAA Weather Radio with battery backup and download mobile weather alerting apps to stay informed of potential severe weather activity in your area. Be sure to turn on location services, so your app can alert you wherever you go.
  • Create a family safety plan that includes communication methods, evacuation options, and meeting places so you can rally if a flood threatens when you are not together. Practice your plan, and share a copy with close family or friends.

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