Flash flood safety: Stay away from moving water


With the terrible news coming out of Texas we must remind ourselves that flooding is the most common type of natural disaster worldwide. In The United States alone, more than 200 flooding-related deaths are reported per year. Of these deaths, 50% are vehicle-related. Here are some tips taken from the Federal Emergency Management Agency FEMA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), [Floods: The Awesome Power(pdf)], to keep you out of harm’s way.

For more information, see Surviving Floods

  • Never drive through a flooded road or bridge. Back up and try a different route.
  • Stay on high ground.
  • Listen to the radio for weather information. Take routes that avoid flooded areas Information is readily available from the NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards. Broadcasts require a specific receiver or scanner. It’s best to have a receiver with the Specific Area Message Encoder (SAME), which will alert you when flash flood warnings or watches are issued.
  • There are seven channels (MHz frequencies) used in the NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards: 162.400, 162.425, 162.450, 162.475, 162.500, 162.525, 162.550
  • Know the terms associated with floods and flash floods.
  • Don’t rely exclusively on official warnings. If you know flash floods are coming move to higher ground as soon as possible.
  • Do not stay in a flooded car. If your vehicle is surrounded by floodwater, abandon the vehicle and move immediately to higher ground.
  • If your car is swept into the water and submerged, DON’T PANIC! Stay calm and wait for the vehicle to fill with water. Once the vehicle is full, the doors will open. Hold your breath and swim to the surface.
  • If you are swept into fast-moving floodwater outside your car, point your feet downstream. Always go over obstacles, never try to go under.
  • If you are stranded on something above the floodwater, such as a tree or building, stay put and wait for help. Do not enter the floodwater.

Know your warnings

  • Flood Watch: Flooding is possible. Tune into NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television.
  • Flash Flood Watch: Flash floods are possible. Be prepared to move quickly to higher ground. Listen to radio or television for information.
  • Flood Warning Flooding: is occurring or will occur soon. Evacuate immediately if told to do so.
  • Flash Flood Warning: A flash flood is occurring. Move to higher ground immediately on foot.

Don’t walk into moving water. Just six inches of moving water can knock you down.

Flood_carDon’t overestimate your car’s ability to drive through floodwater. Six inches of water is enough to reach the bottom of most passenger cars. Driving in water this can cause a loss of control or stall the car. A foot of water will float most cars and two feet of rushing water will sweep away most vehicles, including SUV’s and pickups.

If at all possible, avoid contact with floodwater. Floodwater may be contaminated with oil, gasoline, or raw sewage. Floodwater may also be charged with electricity from fallen power lines.

For up-to-the-minute warnings pertaining to floods and other natural disasters in your area, follow this link and enter your state. http://www.weather.gov. For further information, see Surviving Floods.