Stay high and dry!
Flooding can happen any time and from many different events, however, with this weeks' hurricane Florence, large parts of North and South Carolina (and likely a large portion of the East coast) are underwater and will be for days, possibly weeks into the future. The following information was partly gathered from NOAA.GOV (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Institute), not just a good website for current weather information, it is also a great source of health and safety information.
Each year, more deaths occur due to flooding than from any other thunderstorm related hazard. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that over half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood water. The next highest percentage of flood-related deaths is due to walking into or near flood waters. People underestimate the force and power of water. Many of the deaths occur in automobiles as they are swept downstream. Of these drownings, many are preventable, but too many people continue to drive around the barriers that warn you the road is flooded. A mere 6 inches of fast-moving flood water can knock over an adult. It takes just 12 inches of rushing water to carry away a small car, while 2 feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles. It is NEVER safe to drive or walk into flood waters.
Precautions During Flooding
During a flood, the water level and the rate the water flowing will likely change quickly and unexpectedly. To stay informed monitor local radio and television stations. It is best to avoid flood waters at all costs and evacuate immediately when water starts to rise. Have a plan and don't hesitate to react in a safe, thoughtful manner.
Several helpful reminders:
Stay Informed: Listen to radio and television, including NOAA Weather Radio if possible, check the Internet and social media for information and updates.
Get to Higher Ground: If you live in a flood-prone area or are camping in a low-lying area, get to higher ground immediately.
Obey Evacuation Orders: If told to evacuate, do so immediately. Lock your home when you leave. If you have time, disconnect utilities and appliances.
Practice Electrical Safety: Don't go into a basement, or any room, if water covers the electrical outlets or if cords are submerged. If you see sparks or hear buzzing, crackling, snapping or popping noises--get out! Stay out of water that may have electricity in it!
Avoid Flood Waters: Don't walk through flood waters. It only takes 6 inches of moving water to knock you off your feet. If you are trapped by moving water, move to the highest possible point and call 911 if possible. Do NOT drive into flooded roadways or around a barricade;
Turn Around, Don't Drown! Water may be deeper than it appears and can hide hazards such as sharp objects, washed out road surfaces, electrical wires, chemicals, etc. A vehicle caught in swiftly moving water can be swept away in seconds. Just 12 inches of water can float a car or small SUV, 18 inches of water can carry away large vehicles.
Precautions After Flooding
As the flood waters recede, the damage left behind can be devastating and present many dangers. Destroyed homes and buildings, cars and infrastructure - roadways and bridges, etc - are hazards of which we can be aware, and deal with knowingly. However, what we can't see can be just as dangerous. Floodwaters are often contaminated with sewage or chemicals, gas leaks and live power lines can be deadly but are not apparent at first glance. Several helpful reminders:
Wait for the All Clear: Do not enter a flood-damaged area until you're given the All Clear by authorities.
Stay Informed: Stay tuned to your local news for updated information on road conditions. Ensure water is safe to drink, cook or clean with after a flood. Authorities may ask you to boil water for a while after a flood. Carbon monoxide poisoning is one of the leading causes of death after storms when areas are dealing with power outages. Never use a portable generator inside your home or garage. A review of generator safety from owners manual prior to use is always a good idea.
Avoid Flood Waters: Standing water hides many dangers including toxins and chemicals, sharp objects or a collapsed road. If it is likely your home will flood, don't wait for an evacuation order, get out!
Avoid Disaster Areas: Do not visit disaster areas. Your can hamper rescue and other emergency operations.
Heed Road Closed and Cautionary Signs: Road closure and other cautionary signs are put in place for your safety. Pay attention to them!
Contact Your Family and Loved Ones: Let your family and close friends know that you're okay, so they can help spread the word. Register with or search the American Red Cross' Safe and Well Listing at: https://safeandwell.communityos.org/cms/index.php
All possessions can be replaced and houses can be rebuilt. Your and your families well being are priceless and irreplaceable.