Flash Flood Warnings Today!
While many of us are under a winter storm warning this evening and tomorrow, some folks in the south are under flood and flash flood warnings. Flash flooding occurs when heavy rain comes down quickly – too quickly for the sewer systems to handle it properly. If you live in an area with a flash flood warning today, be prepared! I’m talking to you, Kentucky, West Virginia and southwestern Pennsylvania! Our friends in Alabama have flood warnings as well, so here are some tips to stay safe!
Pack an emergency bag in case you need to evacuate quickly. This should include clothing, food and bottled water (in case you get stuck somewhere without it), your cell phone if you have one, first aid kit, battery operated radio, flashlights, extra batteries, glasses and/or contacts with solution and case, and any medications you may need. If you have pets, make sure they have what they need as well – leash, cage, food, fresh water, etc.
Plan your route of evacuation in advance. You should have more than one route in mind depending on where flooding typically occurs in your area. Keep up to date on weather conditions so you are not surprised when you are asked to leave. If you aren’t feeling safe, don’t wait for a formal evacuation.
Before leaving your home, make sure to turn off all electrical appliances and utilities (gas/water/electric) at the main locations. You do not want to risk fire, further flooding or electrocution when you return.
Do not walk or drive through flooded waters. Water may appear still at the surface but be moving quickly underneath. You may also not know how deep the water is by looking at it. You can use a stick to measure how deep it is and how fast it is moving if you need to cross a flooded area, but it is not advisable to do so if you can avoid it. Driving through flooded water is very dangerous. Water can easily carry a car away – despite what most people think due to the size of a vehicle. If your car stalls, the water is too deep and you need to get out and find higher ground immediately.
Avoid electrical lines that are down in the area. Electric currents travel easily through water and are a major cause of death during floods. These should be reported to the electric company or police if you are able to do so.
After you have been okayed to return to your home, remember the above things as well. There may still be minor flooding issues that can cause problems. Do not use any electric appliances until they have completely dried out. If you are not sure about electrical issues, call a professional to help you. Check for gas leaks as well and do not use an open flame – or smoke – until you have determined no leaks are present. (You should be able to smell a gas leak, but you can use a flashlight to check your gas lines as well.) Carbon monoxide poisoning is also a concern so make sure you have a working detector with fresh batteries before re-entering your home. Call the fire department with any gas or carbon monoxide concerns.
Lastly, check your insurance coverage. Most insurance companies cover sewer backup but do not cover actual flooding. This type of flood insurance is covered federally if your area is covered under the National Flood Insurance plan. If your car is damaged in a flood, it is usually covered under comprehensive coverage. When you know what your options are, you can begin the water damage cleanup process.
Whether this week’s weather brings you snow, sleet or water, please be safe!