Signs of a Flood:

  • Rainfall that is more intense than normal for where you live
  • A dam or levee in your area fails
  • Slow moving tropical storms
  • If you live in an area with snow, a common sign is that the snow melts early
  • Water becomes muddier than usual in a short timespan
  • Water begins to carry twigs, sticks, and pine needles in it.
  • You hear distant thunder (this by itself does not mean a flood is imminent)

How to prepare for a flood:

  • When purchasing a property, find out if the area that you live in is prone to floods. If you’re unsure, then you can get information from your local red cross chapter.
  • Stockpile on emergency preparation materials
  • Ensure that check valves are installed to prevent backup of flood waters in drains
  • Be sure that you have multiple evacuation routes prepared, in case one of your routes becomes inaccessible for any reason.
  • Develop an emergency communication plan, see our page about this.
  • Make sure that your family and friends know how to respond to a flood
  • Learn about the National Flood Insurance Program (link opens in separate page)

What to do during a flood:

  • Listen to a battery operated radio for the latest storm information
  • Fill bathtubs, sinks, and jugs with clean water in case of water contamination
  • Bring outdoor furniture inside to prevent damage
  • Move outdoor furniture and other outdoor items indoors to protect them form damage
  • Move valuable household items upstairs or to safe grounds if possible
  • If the local authorities instruct you to do so, turn off all your utilities and close the main gas valve
  • Evacuate if necessary

If you are indoors during a flood:

  • Turn on battery-operated radio or television to get updates on the flood
  • Get your emergency supplies ready to go
  • If you are ordered to leave or if it is unsafe to remain indoors, do so immediately

If you are outdoors during a flood:

  • Climb to high ground and stay there
  • Avoid walking through floodwaters, if it is moving swiftly, you can get swept off your feet, even if it is shallow water.

If you are in a car:

  • If you are near a flooded area, turn around immediately and try to find another way out.
  • If your car stalls, abandon it immediately. Many people have died from trying to move stalled cars. Remember, cars can be replaced, but you can’t

During an evacuation:

  • Evacuation is easier before flood waters get too deep to drive though, therefore, it is better to begin evacuating early, even if conditions do not seem bad at the time
  • Remember, things can always get much worse, so be prepared for anything
  • Use a battery operated radio to receive evacuation information
  • Follow recommended evacuation routes, shortcuts may be blocked

After a Flood ends:

  • Just because flood waters are receding does not mean that there are no more dangers, therefore, do not return home until authorities indicate an area is safe
  • Inspect the foundation of your home for cracks or other damage
  • Stay out of buildings if flood waters remain around the buildings
  • Use extreme caution when entering buildings, follow these tips:
    • Wear sturdy shoes and use battery powered flashlights when you examine a building
    • Examine walls, floors, doors, and windows to ensure that the building you’re in is not in any danger of collapsing
    • Watch out for any animals that may have entered the building during the flood, especially venomous snakes. If you’re unsure about the presence of any animals in flood waters, use a stick to poke through the water to check.
    • Watch for any plaster or debris that may fall
    • Take pictures of the damage, both of the house and its contents. This is useful for insurance claims.
  • Be sure to check for the following fire hazards:
    • Broken or leaking gas lines
    • Flooded electrical circuits
    • Submerged furnaces or electrical appliances
    • Flammable or explosive materials coming from upstream
  • Dispose of any foods, including canned goods, that may have come in contact with flood waters to reduce risk of waterborne pathogen contamination
  • Pump out 1/3 of the water in a flooded basement to avoid damage to your home’s structure
  • Service damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pits, and leaching systems ASAP. A damaged sewage system is a health hazard
  • Check for sewage and water line damage. If the sewage lines are damaged, call a plumber and DO NOT use toilets.
  • If the water pipes are damaged, call the water company and do not drink tap water. You can get safe water by drinking ice, or by boiling water.

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