Flood Safety


If a flood watch or warning is issued and time permits:

  • Move your furniture and valuables to higher floors of your home.
  • Fill your car's gas tank, in case an evacuation notice is issued.
  • Move to higher ground away from rivers, streams, creeks, and storm drains.
  • Do not drive around barricades - they are there for your safety.
  • If your car stalls in rapidly-rising waters, abandon it immediately and climb to higher ground.

Preventative Measures

  • If you live in a frequently-flooded area, take preventative measures and stockpile emergency building materials:
    • Hammer
    • Lumber
    • Nails
    • Plastic sheeting
    • Plywood
    • Pry bar
    • Saw
    • Shovels
    • Sandbags
  • Have check valves installed in building sewer traps to prevent flood waters from backing up in sewer drains.
  • As a last resort, use large corks or stoppers to plug showers, tubs, or basins.
  • Develop an emergency communication plan.
  • In case family members are separated from one another during floods or flash floods, have a plan for getting back together.
  • Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the "family contact." After a disaster, it's often easier to call long distance. Make sure everyone in the family knows the name, address, and phone number of the contact person.
  • Make sure that all family members know how to respond after a flood or flash flood.
  • Teach all family members how and when to turn off gas, electricity, and water.
  • Teach children how and when to call 9-1-1, police and fire department, and which radio station to tune to for emergency information.
  • Be prepared to evacuate.

Once the Flood Arrives

  • Don't drive through a flooded area. If you come upon a flooded road, turn around and go another way.
  • If your car stalls, abandon it immediately and climb to higher ground.
  • Don't walk through flooded areas. As little as six inches of moving water can knock you to your feet.
  • Stay away from downed power lines and electrical wires.
  • Look out for animals - especially snakes. Animals lose their homes in floods, too. They may seek shelter in yours.
  • If the waters start to rise inside your house before you have evacuated, retreat to the second floor, the attic, and if necessary, the roof.
  • Take dry clothing, a flashlight, and a portable radio with you. Then, wait for help.
  • Don't try to swim to safety. Wait for rescuers to come to you.
  • If outdoors, climb to high ground and stay there.

After the Flood

  • Flood dangers do not end when the water begins to recede. Listen to the radio or television and don't return home until authorities indicate it is safe to do so.
  • Remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance - infants, elderly people, and people with disabilities.
  • If your home, apartment, business has suffered damage, call the insurance company or agent who handles your flood insurance policy right away to file a claim.
  • Before entering a building, inspect foundations for cracks or other damage. Don't go in if there is any chance of the building collapsing.
  • Upon entering the building, don't use matches, cigarette lighters, or any other open flames, since gas may be trapped inside. Instead, use a flashlight to light your way.
  • Keep power off until an electrician has inspected your system for safety.
  • Floodwaters pick up sewage and chemicals from roads, farms, and factories. If your home has been flooded, protect your family's health by cleaning up your house right away. Throw out foods and medicines that may have met floodwater.
  • Until local authorities proclaim your water supply to be safe, boil water for drinking and food preparation vigorously for five minutes before using.
  • Be careful walking around. After a flood, steps and floors are often slippery with mud and covered with debris, including nails and broken glass.