Flash FloodsMost communities in the United States can experience some kind of flooding after spring rains, heavy thunderstorms or winter snow thaws. Floods can be slow or fast-rising, but generally develop over a period of days. Flooding can take on different forms Ė ranging from river flooding to flash flooding to snowmelt flooding. It can occur in any season; any month; any time of the day. Flooding is a threat in almost any place.
Flooding is the No. 1 storm-related killer. It ranks just behind heat waves in the number of casualties for all weather events. More than half of all flood-related deaths are drownings that result from vehicles caught in flood waters and then swept downstream. Eighty percent of all flood deaths occur when people drive into flooded roadways or simply walk through moving water. People often underestimate the force of water. When it comes to flooded areas or high water: Turn Around. Donít Drown.
Flood waters can be extremely dangerous. The force of six inches of swiftly moving water can knock an adult person off his or her feet. The best protection during a flood is to leave the area and seek shelter on higher ground.
Flash flood waters move very quickly and can roll boulders, tear out trees, destroy buildings and obliterate bridges. Walls of water can reach heights of 10 to 20 feet and generally are accompanied by a deadly cargo of debris. The best response to any signs of flash flooding is to move immediately and quickly to higher ground.
Just two feet of moving water can float and carry away most vehicles, including sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and pickup trucks. You can protect yourself best by being prepared and having time to act.
Before a Flood
- Check with your local floodplain administrator to determine if you live in a flood-prone area.
- Visit the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources, Division of Waterís Web site at: http://www.dnr.state.oh.us/Portals/7/floodpln/communitylist.pdf for a list of Ohioís local floodplain administrators.
- Visit this Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources, Division of Waterís site for additional information on flood maps and flood insurance studies: http://www.dnr.state.oh.us/water/floodpln/mapinsur/tabid/3516/Default.aspx
- Consider installing check valves in building sewer traps to prevent flood waters from backing up in sewer drains.
- Plan and practice an evacuation route.
- Have disaster supplies on hand.
- Develop an emergency communication plan.
- Flood damage to vehicles is covered by auto insurance when comprehensive coverage is purchased.
During a Flood Watch
- Listen to a radio or television for the latest storm information.
- Fill bathtub, sinks and jugs with clean water in case water becomes contaminated.
- Move valuable household possessions to upper floors or to safe grounds if time permits.
- If you are instructed by local authorities, turn off all utilities at the main power switch and close the main gas valve.
- Be prepared to evacuate.
During a Flood Warning
- If indoors, turn on a battery-powered radio or NOAA Weather Radio to get the latest emergency information. If your area is advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
- If outdoors, climb to high ground and stay there. Avoid walking through any flood waters.
- If you are driving and have come to a flooded area, turn around and go the other way. Many deaths have resulted from attempts to drive through flooded roadways.
During an Evacuation
- If advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
- Evacuation is much simpler and safer before flood waters block your escape. Leave early enough to avoid being marooned by flooded roads.
- Never attempt to drive or walk through flood waters. Water could be deeper than it appears and floodwater currents can be deceptive. Remember, it only takes two feet of water to carry away most vehicles.
- Listen to a battery-operated radio or TV for evacuation instructions.
- Follow recommended evacuation routes. Shortcuts may be blocked.
- Flood dangers do not end when the water begins to recede. Listen to a radio or television and do not return home until authorities indicate it is safe.
- Remember to help those who may require special assistance: infants, young children, the elderly and people with disabilities.
- Before entering a flood-damaged building, check the foundation for cracks and inspect porch roofs and overhangs to be sure they are adequately supported. Ask a building inspector to check the house before you go inside.
- Be alert for gas leaks. Do not strike a match or use open flame when entering a building unless you know the gas has been turned off and the area ventilated.
- Do not use appliances or motors that have gotten wet unless they have been taken apart, cleaned and dried.
Additional Flood Safety Rules
Turn Around Donít Drown (TADD)
Turn Around Donít Drown is a NOAA National Weather Service safety campaign to warn people of the hazards of walking or driving vehicles through flood waters. To avoid getting caught in this situation, the National Weather Service suggests these safety rules:
- Monitor the NOAA Weather Radio or your favorite news source for vital weather-related information.
- If flooding occurs, move to higher ground immediately. Leave areas subject to flooding. This includes dips in roads, low spots, canyons and washes.
- Do not allow children to play near high water, storm drains or ditches. Hidden dangers often lie beneath the water. In addition, the flowing floodwaters could sweep children or adults away.
- Avoid areas that are already flooded, especially if the floodwaters are flowing fast. Do not attempt to cross flowing streams. It only takes six inches of fast flowing water to sweep you off your feet. Turn Around Donít Drown.
- Never drive on a flooded road. Flooded roads often have significant damage hidden by floodwaters. In addition, most vehicles lose contact with the road in six inches of water and can be swept away in 18 to 24 inches of water. Turn Around Donít Drown.
- Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams or washes, particularly when threatening weather conditions exist.
- Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.
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