Flood Survival 101
As we work our way through the summer of 2012, severe weather has been a factor in almost every area of the country. Where there is severe weather, there is also the threat of flooding, which may occur rapidly or may develop slowly over a period of day. Flash floods, rapidly developing flood systems, kill about 200 people in the US every year, with more than half of them being the result of people who make the mistake of driving their cars during flood conditions. In many cases, property damage may be unavoidable, but it is possible to make adequate preparation for personal safety.
For starters, when watching the news and keeping track of changing weather conditions, be familiar with the various terms used in describing current weather scenarios. A watch means that conditions are favorable for a flood to form, while a warning means that a flood is in progress and poses an imminent threat.
The best defense against a flood is to know your flood risk, and this may be determined by examining the history of your area and learning how much of an effect there has been from floods in the past. Patterns tend to develop which offer a glimpse into what may be expected in the future.
Weather radios can keep you up to date on weather conditions, with the earliest possible notification in the event of a flood warning.You can get this information from the NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards. In order to receive this information you should have a receiver with the Specific Area Message Encoder (SAME) that can warn you of flash flood alerts. NOAA Weather Radio uses seven channels: 162.400, 162.425, 162.450, 162.475, 162.500, 162.525, 162.550.
Flood watches don’t always mean evacuation, unless of course you live in a low lying area or other location that is prone to flooding. Better to be safe than sorry. Homes located near rivers and creeks may be at increased risk, so be prepared to leave, even if it’s just for a little while until the flooding threat has been determined.
During flood conditions, try to avoid contact with flood waters. Much of this water may be contaminated with sewage or gasoline. It may also be electrically charged if power lines are down in the area.
If your car gets flooded, get out. Remember most flood fatalities occur with people in automobiles. If you can’t open the door, wait until the car fills with water. The pressure should equalize and the doors should open fairly easily.
Do not walk through running water, since it only takes about six inches of it to knock a grown man down. If the water is still, it may be safer, but as a rule, you should avoid flood waters if at all possible.
If you’re stuck in a tree or on a rooftop, resist the urge to climb down into the water. You’re better off staying put and awaiting rescue.