Flood and Flash Flood Safety
Hurricane Florence is growing in size and shape, becoming a category 4 hurricane, according to the National Hurricane Center. But, current models show areas from North and South Carolina to Virginia are at greatest risk for major impacts from Florence. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says locations farther south and north, into the mid-Atlantic region should monitor the storm for any forecast changes. The American Red Cross has provided this information to the public for preparation and preparedness of a flood.
Know the difference. A flood/flash flood watch means a flood/flash flood is possible in your area. A flood/flash flood warning means flooding/flash flooding is already occurring or will occur soon in your area. Move immediately to higher ground or stay on high ground. Follow any evacuation orders.
- Listen to local radio, NOAA radio or TV stations for the latest information and updates. People should keep informed about weather conditions and listen to the advice of local officials.
- Check your emergency kit and replenish any items missing or in short supply. Keep it nearby.
- Turn around, don’t drown. If driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
- Stay away from floodwaters. If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, stop, turn around and go another way.
- Keep children and pets out of the water.
- Be especially cautious at night when it’s harder to see flood danger.
- After a flood, do not attempt to return to affected areas until officials say it is safe to do so.
- Once you are able to go home, look for loose power lines, damaged gas lines, cracks in the foundation or other damage before you enter your home.
- During cleanup, wear protective clothing, including rubber gloves and rubber boots.
- Watch out for wild animals, especially poisonous snakes that may have come into your home with the floodwater.
- If you smell natural or propane gas or hear a hissing noise, leave immediately and call the fire department.
- If power lines are down outside your home, do not step in puddles or standing water.
- Materials such as cleaning products, paint, batteries, contaminated fuel and damaged fuel containers are hazardous. Check with local authorities for assistance with disposal to avoid risk.
- Make sure your food and water are safe. Discard items that have come in contact with floodwater, including canned goods, water bottles, plastic utensils and baby bottle nipples. When in doubt, throw it out.
There are 3 easy steps people can take to be “Red Cross Ready” for an emergency:
- Build an emergency kit with a gallon of water per person, per day, non-perishable food, a flashlight, battery-powered radio, first aid kit, medications, supplies for an infant if applicable, a multi-purpose tool, personal hygiene items, copies of important papers, cell phone chargers, extra cash, blankets, maps of the area and emergency contact information. Many of these items are available through the Red Cross Store at redcrossstore.org.
- Talk with household members and create an evacuation plan. Practicing the plan minimizes confusion and fear during the event.
- Be informed. Learn about the community’s emergency response plan. Plan routes to local shelters, register family members with special medical needs as required and make plans for pets.
If someone already has a disaster kit, now is the time make sure the food and water is still okay to consume and that copies of important documents are up to date. If they already have an emergency plan for their household, they should talk about it again with family members so everyone knows what to do if an emergency occurs.