Flash Floods: How to Survive If One Strikes

Flash Floods: How to Survive If One Strikes

When excessive rainfall strikes, flash flooding often follows suit. Although it can happen anywhere, flash floods are especially common in low lying areas. They can be deadly and costly. Here are some flash flooding facts and tips to survive.

What Causes Flash Floods

Most flash flooding is fueled by slow moving thunderstorms, repeat thunderstorms in the same area, or heavy rains from hurricanes and tropical storms. A dam or levee failure, or a sudden release of water held by an ice jam, can also trigger them.

Cities Are High Risk

Flash floods pose a significant threat to urban areas. City infrastructure such as roads, sidewalks, and parking lots can’t absorb water. The water rapidly accumulates and leads to increased runoff. The infrastructure disrupts the natural flow of water into rivers, streams, and wetlands. Cities can’t handle the excess water.

High Water Volume

Flash floods carry a high amount of water. In extreme cases, water levels can reach up to 30 feet or more. The powerful surge can cause severe damage to anything in its path, including buildings, infrastructure, and natural landscapes.

Floodwaters Are Dangerous

Floodwaters can sweep you away. Vehicles can become difficult to drive in just six inches of water and be swept away in as little as 18 inches. It takes only six inches to sweep a person off their feet. People often underestimate the force and depth of floodwaters. Never risk driving or walking through them. Always turn around, don’t drown.

Flash Flooding Is Deadly

Flash flooding is the number one storm-related killer in the United States. The 30-year average for flood deaths is around 127 people per year. National Weather Service data indicates nearly half of all flash flood deaths are vehicle related.

Hefty Price Tag

Flash floods can cause significant structural damage. Just 12 inches of floodwater on a 2,000-square-foot building can cost $50,000 or more. Flash floods cause billions of dollars in property damage annually across the U.S.

Flash Flood Survival Tips

Here are some basic safety rules to follow in the event of flooding.

Evacuate if you are told to leave. Avoid bridges over fast moving water. Get to higher ground.

If you get trapped on a roof, stay put until help arrives. Get on top of your vehicle if it stalls in water. Never drive through water. Don’t wade in floodwater as there may be hidden debris or downed power lines. Don’t outrun the water. Many people perish when they attempt this instead of moving to higher ground.

Flash Flood Preparations

Here are some tips to follow to make sure you are prepared to handle a flash flood.

Monitor the Weather Forecast. If a flash flood warning is issued for your area, quickly move to higher ground.

Prepare a Disaster Kit. This is especially important if you live in a flood prone area. Include extra water and food, blankets, extra clothes, a first aid kit, prescription medications, a flashlight, a portable radio, and extra batteries.

Know the Hazards in Your Area. Contact your local National Weather Service, emergency management office, or the American Red Cross for information.

Make a Plan. Meet with your family and create a plan in the event of an emergency.

Let Us Handle the Mess

When it comes to water, flood, or fire damage, Flood Department is here to help. We provide water damage repair and clean-up services for homeowners and businesses. We cover Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C. We are dedicated to helping reverse the unfortunate results. Contact us at 301-829-2600 or visit us online.

How to Survive a Flood

How to Survive a Flood

Flooding is the most common natural disaster in the United States. In 2022, the nation saw 19 major flood events and 103 people lost their lives. In 2021, flash flooding and river floods killed 146 people. So far in 2023, at least 32 people have died. If you live in a flood-susceptible area, here are some flood safety tips you need to know.

Make Preparations

If bad weather is on the way, be prepared to take action. Pay close attention to weather alerts on the radio, television, or your cell phone. A flood watch means a flood is possible in your area. A flood warning means flooding is occurring or will be soon. Be ready to evacuate quickly.

Have an emergency flood survival kit ready to go. It should have at least three days of supplies for each family member. Items should include non-perishable food, a flashlight, a battery-powered radio, portable phone chargers, extra batteries, a first-aid kit, a 7-day supply of medications, a multi-purpose tool, personal hygiene and sanitation items, and copies of important documents.

Make sure your drainage systems are clear of debris. Clogging can lead to flooding and property damage.

Flash Flooding Guidelines

If there’s any chance of flash flooding, move to higher ground immediately. The sheer force and volume of flowing water that can accumulate is extremely dangerous. Flash floods can occur quickly when water overflows from streams and other areas prone to sudden flooding.

If You Are Stuck in a Flood

If a flood warning is issued for your area, prepare to head for higher ground. Move essential items to the upper floor of your home. If told to do so, turn off utilities at the main switches or valves. Unplug electrical appliances. Never touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.

Six inches of water is all it takes to sweep you off your feet. Never walk or drive through moving water. People underestimate its force. Always remember to “turn around, don’t drown”. 

Driving in Floods

Half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into flood waters. Turn around and go another way if you come upon high water. If floodwaters rise around your car, get out and move to higher ground if you can do so safely. Six inches of water can stall your vehicle or cause you to lose control. One foot of water will float many vehicles while two feet of rushing water can carry you away.

Trapped in a Vehicle

If you are inside a sinking vehicle, take these steps to help you get out safely.

Don’t panic. Take a deep breath and focus on safely escaping your vehicle.

Unbuckle your seatbelt. Open your window immediately and swim out. Don’t open the door.

Don’t use the car as a floatie. Swim with the flow of the water until you reach higher ground.

Break the window. If it won’t open, use a sharp object, a rock, or your heel to smash it.

Following a Flood

Return home after a flooding event only when authorities say it’s safe. Listen to news reports to learn if the local water supply is ok to drink. Be careful on roads where floodwaters have receded. They may be too weak to hold a vehicle. Stay away from downed power lines. Use extreme caution when entering buildings which could be damaged. Clean and disinfect everything that got wet.

Let Us Clean Up the Mess

If your home has suffered water, flood, or fire damage, or you need a biohazard cleanup, Flood Department is here to help. We provide repair and clean-up services for homeowners and businesses in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C. We are dedicated to helping reverse the damage done by water, mold, sewage, smoke, biohazards, and more. Contact us at 301-829-2600 or visit us online for more information.