Flash Floods – Safety TIps

Flooded store

What is a Flash Flood?

The term flash flood is used to describe rapid flooding of geomorphic low-lying areas such as washes, rivers, dry lakes and basins. This can be associated and caused by heavy rain, tropical storms or hurricanes. This violent flood can take minutes to hours to develop and should be taken seriously.

Hurricane Harvey Houston flooding

Flash Flood Warning

National Weather Service will issue a warning when a flash flood is imminent or occurring. If you are in an area with a flash flood warning you are urged to move immediately to high ground.

Flash Flood Watch

When conditions are favorable for flash flooding in flood-prone areas the National Weather Service will release a Flash Flood Watch.  This is typical in situations when upcoming rains will have the potential to cause flooding or when a dam may break in the near future.

How to Prepare for Flash Floods

First it’s important to follow the information released by the National Weather Service to understand your risk level. If you live in an area prone to sudden floods be sure to practice flood drills with the family. This way everyone knows their role if and when an emergency occurs.
If possible protect appliances from minor flooding by placing a half-block of cement under each corner. Before floodwaters occur, turn off the main power switch to your home. Never under any circumstances flip the switch if it’s wet or you’re standing in flood water.

These items should be packed and ready in case of a flood (according to the Red Cross):

  • Water—at least a 3-day supply; one gallon per person per day
  • Food—at least a 3-day supply of non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food
  • Flashlight [Available on the Red Cross Store]
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible) [Available on the Red Cross Store]
  • Extra batteries
  • First Aid kit [Available on the Red Cross Store]
  • Medications (7-day supply) and medical items (hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, cane)
  • Multi-purpose tool
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items
  • Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, deed/lease to home, birth certificates, insurance policies)
  • Cell phone with chargers
  • Family and emergency contact information
  • Extra cash
  • Emergency blanket
  • Map(s) of the area
  • Baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers)
  • Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowl)
  • Tools/supplies for securing your home
  • Extra set of car keys and house keys
  • Extra clothing, hat and sturdy shoes
  • Rain gear
  • Insect repellent and sunscreen
  • Camera for photos of damage

During a flood your ultimate goal is to get you, your family and pets to higher ground for safety. Preparing in advance can help ease the chaos, anxiety and dangers often associated with flash flooding.