Flash floods are dangerous. They can strike without warning at any time even when the weather is sunny and bright. Flash floods are usually due to heavy rains but can also be caused by dam or other retention system failure. Here are some tips to keep you safe during these adverse weather conditions (also see http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/flood www.stayinbusiness.com, http://www.floodsafety.noaa.gov/):
- Flash floods can occur even when the local weather is fine. Heavy rain many miles away can result in run-off water causing flash floods. This is especially true if you are travelling in low lying areas that are natural pathways for run-off water.
- Always be aware of your location in adverse weather. This will allow you to guide rescue teams. Minutes can make a big difference.
- Do not try to cross water flowing over a road. Around a foot of water is enough to wash vehicles off the road. Try alternate routes or go to high ground and wait it out. However, it is good to let emergency responders know you are stranded and your location.
- No matter how tempting, never drive over bridges that have water flowing over them. They can be washed away suddenly.
- When escaping flood water, getting injured by debris is a real threat. Floods have incredible power and have the potential of sweeping good size rocks along. Serious injury can result if rocks strike while you are wading through. Be careful.
- If you are forced to walk through floods, try using a stick to prod the path in front of you. Man hoe covers frequently get washed away during floods. Falling into a man hole in a flooded street is a recipe for disaster.
- Beware of downed power lines. Electrocution is a real risk.
- Be prepared – when going out in adverse weather always make sure you have safety gear in your car. Make sure your cell phone is fully charged.
- While the best policy is to stay indoors during bad weather, if you have to venture out, make sure someone knows where you are going and when you expect to return.
- Having children in the car exposes you to greater risks. Stay indoors if possible.
- Always heed official warnings and DO NOT disregard road signs telling you the road is flooded. It may cost you your life. Listed to weather casts.
All of us have to take personal responsibility for our safety. Be aware and astute in your actions.