With heavy rains amongst us and the peak of hurricane season fast-approaching, it’s important to be prepared and know some basic safety tips when it comes to flooding. Floods not only occur frequently, but the resulting damage can be quite costly. They are often caused by heavy or steady rainfall for several hours or days that saturate the ground. Particularly, flash floods occur suddenly due to rapidly rising water along a stream or low-lying area. Often weather forecasters will use different terms to describe floods. While a “flood/flash flood watch” describes a possible flood in your area, a “flood/flash flood warning” emphasizes that a flood is already occurring or will occur soon in your area.
In addition to knowing the predicted weather conditions of your region, it’s important to be prepared for any possible or sudden evacuations. When a flood warning is issued for your area, head for higher ground. Stay away from all floodwaters and keep children away from streams or running water. If you do happen to come across a flowing stream of water that reaches above your ankles—stop, turn around, and go another way. Stick with the motto, “Turn around, don’t drown!” Remember, six inches of swiftly moving water can sweep you off of your feet. These basic rules also apply when driving. If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are quickly rising, move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water. It’s especially important to be cautious at night when it’s harder to recognize flood danger and difficult to perceive how deep the water really is. More tips on flood preparation can be found here.
While it’s definitely important to be aware of these basic safety tips when it comes to flooding, you can find more tips on what to do right before, during, and after a flood by using the free hurricane app from American Red Cross for iPhone and Android. Along with tips, it provides preloaded checklists, tracker maps, and alerts that can help you in times of a flood watch or warning. It even provides emergency tools such as a flashlight, strobe light, alarm, and an “I’m Safe” feature that allows you to communicate with others on your current condition via Twitter, Facebook, SMS, and email. In times of flooding, stay informed, be prepared, act smartly, and make use of the tools available on the Red Cross Hurricane App.
Download the app here for iPhone and here for Android.
-Khushbu Majmundar, Americorps NPRC member