Our world will become increasingly prone to catastrophic flooding as the effects of climate change raise ocean levels and disrupt weather systems. Therefore, it’s important to be aware of flood risks and survival strategies to ensure the well-being of yourself, your family, and other members of your community.
As with all natural disasters, prior planning is the best way to increase your chances of survival. Make sure that you know the flood risks for the area you live in and stay up-to-date about local weather conditions. You can also sign up to get flood warnings from The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and your local Emergency Alert System (EAS). Remember that a flood watch means that there is the possibility of a flood while a flood warning means that one is happening or about to happen.
Be safety conscious by developing an evacuation plan for yourself, your family, and any pets. Make sure that your family knows the plan and that your bug-out-bag is always stocked, easily accessible, and ready to go. But don’t just be prepared to bug-out in the event of a flood since many natural disasters will force you to bug-in. Therefore, make sure you have some emergency food, water, and medical supplies prepared.
To protect your property from flooding, make sure that all valuables are kept on an upper story and make digital copies of important documents. With that stated, also make sure that you also have hard copies of important documents in case of a power failure. If your home is at risk from flooding, make sure that you have flood insurance, but also know how to mitigate and prevent flood damage. For example, keep your property’s drainage systems clear and make landscaping modifications to control flood waters.
Remember these things to escape a flood:
If you’re traveling to a rural area, make sure that you understand the local flood risks. This includes researching local flood trends, regional topography, and current weather reports. Remember that distant rainstorms can unleash raging flood waters that can travel for miles, so consider moving to high-ground if there are strong rains upstream from you. Whenever you’re caught in a rainstorm, get to higher ground and beware of landslides and lightning.
It’s always best to make camp at higher elevations to avoid cold valley winds, but higher ground is especially important if you’re in an area that’s prone to flooding. Make sure that you camp above and away from any streams or creeks that may overflow. Remember that quickly rising or suddenly muddy waters indicate a coming flood, and a rushing wave will make a lot of noise as it approaches. Also, avoid camping in a place where a water crossing is the only exit.
If you are caught in a flood, do your best to get to higher ground and avoid flood waters at all costs—it only takes six inches of rushing water to sweep you off your feet. A good rule to remember is, “Turn around—don’t drown!” In other words, if you find yourself in flood waters that are up to your ankles, turn around and go another way. It’s also a good idea to avoid fallen power lines, and never drink flood waters.
Once flood waters have subsided, make sure that you maintain a safety mindset by avoiding flowing water while staying prepared for landslides and debris flows. Stay away from flooded areas until they are declared safe again, and avoid unsafe conditions from damaged structures. Remember that flood waters often contain waste from septic tanks, so beware of this biohazard when cleaning up.
The Red Cross has resources to help communities impacted by flooding, so try reaching out to them for assistance. Also make sure that you contact your insurance company and thoroughly document any damage to your home and vehicle. Don’t forget to maintain your personal health after a natural disaster by staying well rested, fed, and hydrated. And never neglect any first-aid concerns, no matter how minor they may seem.