Most communities in the US experience some type of flooding. Some of the common warning signs are dam or levee failure or intense rainfall along with tropical storms. Flood waters can be extremely dangerous, but you already knew that. The question is, how dangerous? Most people aren’t aware that a force of just six inches of fast-moving water can knock people off their feet, and two feet of moving water is enough to push a vehicle. Since flash floods can impact our lives whether we live in a flood zone or not, it is important to be prepared and know what to do during a flash flood.
Table of Contents
- What is a Flash Flood?
- Flash Flood Survival Tips
- Flood Watch vs. Flood Warning
- Get an Emergency Kit
- Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late
- Evacuation During Flash Floods
- Driving Through Flooded Streets
- After the Flood
- Ending Note
What is a Flash Flood?
As the name implies, flash floods take place suddenly without warning. A flash flood meaning is that people are caught by surprise and panic, which leads to them making mistakes, sometimes with deadly consequences. To say that flash floods happen quickly is an understatement. The quickest developed flash flood in the U.S. reportedly took just 58 seconds, compare that to the days it takes for a normal flood to develop and you get an idea of how much more dangerous flash floods can be. Normally, flash floods occur in canyons, streams and dry river beds. One of the most common reasons for flash floods is rain, although melting snow and hurricanes can also lead to flashfloods.
Flash Flood Survival Tips
The following are some important flash flood survival tips for you to consider to make sure you and your family are safe:
- Be Prepared
- Whether you reside in an area that’s susceptible to flooding or not, it is always good to be prepared, rather than waiting for the last moment when it’s too late.
- Pay Attention
- One of the best flash flood survival tips is to pay attention to the TV, radio and cellphone alerts.
- You can also go online to get official updates on flooding news.
- While flash floods are hard to predict, forecasters can get a good idea by focusing on the bullseye of intense rain in an area, and considering a few other factors, such as the amount of rainfall, the intensity of rainfall and the amount of saturation in the soil.
Flood Watch vs. Flood Warning
You are also going to need to know the difference between a flood watch and a flood warning. Many people use these terms interchangeably since they both refer to flood-type situations, but there is a big difference between the two.
Differences between a Flood Watch vs. Flood Warning
A flood watch means that it is possible that a flood may occur in the area. A flood warning means that flooding is already occurring or will occur sometime soon and that you should prepare to evacuate.
Get an Emergency Kit
Investing in an emergency survival kit is not going to make a big dent in your pocket, and there’s a good chance that you will thank yourself later if you do need it. Getting an emergency survival kit can also save your life, which is why it’s probably a good idea to invest in one.
Flash Flood emergency survival kit
- First aid kit
- Portable solar-powered phone chargers
- Battery-powered or hand-cranked radio
- Sanitation items
- At least three day’s worth of non-perishable food and water.
Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late
Unfortunately, many people make the mistake of underestimating the severity and seriousness of an official flood warning. These are usually the people you see waving from atop roofs on the news when the flood does come. It is important to be aware that flash flooding can occur within a few hours of the warning. This is why even if there’s a slight possibility of flash floods, it should be taken seriously, which is one of the most important flash flood survival tips you can follow. Paying attention to flash flood warnings is also important since areas around streams, drainage channels and canyons can flood very quickly without any prior warning.
Evacuation During Flash Floods
If a flood warning has been issued it will be crucial to get to higher ground as soon as you can. If there’s time, you can secure your home first by moving all essential items to upper floors and disconnecting or turning off utilities.
Dangers of Fast Moving Flood Water
While evacuating either alone or with your family, it is important not to attempt to walk through fast-moving water. Remember, just six inches of rapid flowing water can sweep you off your feet. If you must walk in the water then choose the places where water is not flowing.
Check Flood Water Depth
A good way of checking the flow of the water is by using a stick to check the ground in front of you. If you come upon a flowing stream where the water has reached your ankles, stop and find another path.
Driving Through Flooded Streets
Driving through flooded streets can be especially dangerous. It is important not to drive through an extremely flooded road because if the flood waters rise your vehicle could get stuck, putting both you and your family in danger. To keep from getting swept away in your vehicle, don’t hesitate to abandon your vehicle and move to higher ground.
After the Flood
It is also important to avoid downed power lines that can electrically charge the water and flood water that may be contaminated by raw sewage. It is also important to be aware of certain areas where the flood waters have receded since roads weakened by the water can easily collapse. One of the flash flood survival tips to stay safe during and after flash floods is to return home only after the authorities have given the green light.
If you live in a flood-prone area, it is important to find out whether your property is above or below the flood stage water level. Before buying a house, would-be homeowners should learn more about the history of flooding in the area. You should learn about flash floods survival tips and community alert signals just to keep safe. The American Red Cross can provide you with a copy of the community’s flood evacuation plan, which will include information on shelters and the safest routes you can take during flash floods.