Understand What to Do Before, During and After a Flood

Before The Flood

What you can do before the flood when you receive a flood watch:

  • A flood watch is issued when flooding is possible within the watch area. Be aware of potential flood hazards if a watch is issued. Also, be ready to respond and act quickly should flooding occur.
  • Prepare an evacuation plan before flooding occurs because flooded roads may limit your escape route. Determine if roads you normally travel to your home or job will flood during a storm and look for alternative routes to use when flooding occurs.
  • Always head for higher ground before the water becomes too deep because six inches of rapidly flowing water can knock you off your feet.
  • Make sure you know your flood risk and the elevation above which flooding occurs. If creeks, rivers or streams near you flood easily be prepared to move to a safer place.
  • Find out if you are located in a high, medium or low flood risk area.
  • Discuss flood plans with your family ahead of time to ensure everyone knows what to do.
  • Keep a battery powered portable weather radio, emergency cooking equipment and flashlights in working order with extra batteries.
  • If time allows, you can have check-valves installed in your plumbing by a professional to prevent flood waters from backing up into the drains of your home.
  • Make sure your automobile has fuel. If electricity is shutoff, gas stations may not be able to operate pumps for days.
  • Water service may be interrupted, so be sure to store drinking water in food-grade containers.
  • Prepare an emergency kit with food, first-aid supplies and medicines your family or pets may need.

During The Flood

What to do when you receive a flood warning:

  • Evacuate immediately if advised to do so before access to a safer area is cut off by flood water.
  • Take one vehicle for your family to avoid getting separated and to reduce traffic jams.
  • Listen to a weather radio or your local radio or television stations for information concerning the flooding.
  • Do not drive unless you have to. If you encounter a flooded road, never drive into the flood water because you may not be able to see how fast the water is moving, holes or submerged debris. Also avoid trying to walk, swim or play in flood water for the same reasons.
  • Never attempt to drive through a flooded road because the depth of the water is not always obvious and the road bed may be washed out under the water causing you to get stranded or trapped.
  • During threatening conditions, do not camp or park your vehicle along creeks, streams or rivers.
    Take extra precautions at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.
  • Barricades are put up for your protection, so do not drive around them. Always turn around and take another route.
  • Do not allow children to play around high water, storm drains or ducts. It is easy to be swept away by fast moving water.
  • Turn around and go another way if you encounter a stream where water is flowing above your ankles. You can be knocked off your feet by water as little as six inches deep. Most flood related injuries or deaths occur when people are swept away wading through flood waters.
  • Always climb to higher ground before flooding occurs or before the water becomes too deep.

After The Flood

Here are a few tips on recovering from a flood and steps to take should you need to rebuild.

  • Get medical help if needed at the nearest hospital.
  • The American Red Cross may provide food, shelters and water to help meet the immediate disaster related needs in your community.
  • Never visit disaster areas because you may hamper rescue and other emergency operations.
  • Always use flashlights if the power is out because candles may start a fire.
  • Use flashlights to examine buildings. Never use a lantern, match or torch because flammables may be inside.
  • Report broken utility lines immediately to the appropriate authorities.
  • Boil drinking water before using it. Wells need to be pumped out and water tested for purity before drinking it. Call your local public health authority when in doubt.
  • Throw out any fresh or canned food that has come in contact with flood waters.
  • Reduce your risk of future floods by following local building codes and ordinances should you need to rebuild. Make sure to use flood resistant materials to protect yourself and your property from future flood damage.