Separating Flooding Fact From Fiction
It’s not just your imagination. Flooding is a real problem that people face with little or no warning. Flooding is the most common natural disaster and it impacts everyone who lives in an area that gets rain. The National Severe Storms Laboratory reports that, “In the U.S. floods kill more people each year than tornadoes, hurricanes, or lightning.” Aside from moving to a desert, there are things we can do to better prepare for and protect ourselves from potential flooding.
Know Your Flooding TerminologyKnowing the difference between flood related terms will help you react in times of emergency. Here are some highly used terms, and what they mean should you hear them on a news broadcast in your area.
Flood WatchThis means flooding is probable, soon. Listen to weather on the radio or watch TV for regular updates.
Flash Flood WatchThis means there is potential for flash flooding. Stay tuned to radio, TV/News for further instructions on moving to higher ground. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), “Flash floods occur when excessive water fills normally dry creeks or riverbeds along with currently flowing creeks and rivers, causing rapid rises of water in a short amount of time, and they can happen with little or no warning.”
Flood WarningFlooding is happening right now or will happen in the immediate future. If you are advised to evacuate, do so and follow your family’s emergency plan.
Flash Flood WarningA Flash Flood is currently underway. Go to higher ground by foot right away.
What to Do If You’re Stuck in A Car During a Flash FloodIt only takes six inches of water to make driving dangerous during a flood. Six inches will reach the bottom of most vehicles (yes, even your SUV or truck) resulting in a loss of control in steering. Just one or two feet of water is enough to cause a vehicle to be swept away in a flash flood. Avoid driving during times of Flash Flood Warnings at all costs until the threat has passed.
- Remain as calm as you can (we get that this is scary, but do your best)
- Turn on both your headlights and hazard lights so first responders can see you
- Take off your seatbelt and unlock your doors
- Remove any excess clothing (like coats or jackets)
- Open your window slowly (most car windows will continue to work so long as your car is not completely immersed in water) and climb out. If you have a resqhammer in your car you can use it to break out. To kick the glass out from inside, lie on your back with the soles of your feet (in shoes) against the glass, pull your knees back into your chest and stomp at the windows with full force, connecting with your heels. If you still can’t get out, you must wait until the water pressure inside your car is equal to that outside your car. Unfortunately, this means you need to wait for the car to fill to around where your neck is before you’ll be able to open the door.
- Get to higher ground, or swim to safety if you’re able to do so. Call 911 for Help.