Planning ahead for flooding will protect you, your family, your property, your finances and your piece of mind. This is especially true if you live in a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) designated flood zone. To find out more about flood zones, see the Flood Zones web page.
What you should know about flooding:
- Six inches of swiftly moving water can knock you off your feet, so don't walk through flooded areas
- Flooded streets may hide areas of washed out streets. Water may be much deeper than it appears, so use caution in these areas.
- Vehicles can be easily swept away in just two feet of moving water, so don't drive through flooded areas. If your car stalls, abandon it and move to high ground. More people drown in their cars than anywhere else during flooding,
- Flash flood waters can roll boulders, tear out trees, destroy buildings and obliterate bridges.
- Electric current passes easily through water, so stay away from downed power lines and electrical wires. Electrocution is a major source of deaths in floods.
Preparing for a flood:
- It is important to know if your home is at risk of flooding. To find out if your home is in a flood zone, see Flood Zones
- Keep up with the latest flood information by listening to local radio or TV stations
- Prepare a family disaster plan and assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit.
- Check with your local Red Cross chapter for official warning and evacuation procedures in your area. Here is a link to the Minnesota chapter of the Red Cross.
When flooding occurs, follow this advice from FEMA:
- If advised to evacuate, do so immediately
- If there is time, shut off utilities at the main switches
- If there is time, move furniture and valuables to a higher floor
- If the waters start to rise inside your house before you have evacuated, retreat to the second floor, the attic, and if necessary, the roof
- Take personal necessities, such as medications, eyeglasses, dry clothing, a flashlight, and a portable radio with you. Then, wait for help.
- Don't try to swim to safety; wait for rescuers to come to you
- If outdoors, climb to high ground and stay there
More information can be found at the flooding section of the FEMA website.
After the flood
- Use caution when entering your home
- Do not enter a flooded area in your home if the electricity has not been turned off
- It may be unsafe to enter a flooded basement, even after water has receded. Before entering, you may want to have the home inspected by a structural engineer, a licensed electrician, as well as a plumber to determine cross contamination issues.
- Check your ceilings for signs of sagging. Ceiling boards are heavy, and can be dangerous if they fall.
- Report any animal carcasses, rats, dangerous chemicals or similar hazardous materials on your property to the health department.
Here are some things that you might need when it is safe to return home:
- First aid kit
- Battery operated radio
- Waterproof boots or waders
- Safety clothing (hard hat & gloves)
- Dust mask
- Still or video camera
- Tools (crowbar, saw, pliers)
- Drinking water
- Trash bags
- Cleaning supplies
For more safety tips, see Dealing with Flood Damage.
This American Red Cross website information about Are You Ready for a Flood or Flash Flood?
The Government of British Columbia in Canada has a great website that contains information about "Personal Flood Preparedness and Prevention"
FEMA has a website for kids called Ready. The message for kids is Prepare. Plan. Stay Informed. This site contains some great flood information geared towards kids on how to prepare for a flood.
Disclaimer: The information on this page is merely a summary of flood safety information. For more complete information, follow the provided links to other websites.
Last updated Jan. 31, 2012