Stay safe with these summer flash flood safety tips

Flash floods can happen with little warning.

When you get a lot of rain, like we do in Atlanta during the summer, it’s not uncommon to have flash floods. Flash floods happen fast, and they can strike without a lot of warning. Summer months often come with the highest risk of flash floods because a lot of rain can fall in a short amount of time. The ground and rivers just can’t keep up. So, when it starts deluging outside and it rains so hard it’s difficult to see, it’s important to know what to do to stay safe during a flash flood.

So, here are our flash flood safety tips to help you prepare for flooding and weather the storm.

1. Understand the weather warnings.

Emergency weather alerts have their own lingo that you need to know how to decipher. Flash flood alerts work just like the tornado-watch/tornado-warning system.

A flash flood watch means that conditions in your area are ideal for a flash flood. You should…

  • Listen to the TV or radio for further warnings or updates about the weather.
  • Have a plan for what to do if the weather gets more severe.
  • Check your emergency disaster kit.
  • Put your outdoor patio furniture and decorations inside.
  • Protect your belongings by moving them to the highest floor of your home.
  • Unplug electronics. (But remember, never touch electronics if you are standing in water or if you’re drenched.)
  • Turn off your gas and electricity if you’re instructed to do so.

A flash flood warning means that there has been flooding in your area or that flash floods are soon to arrive. It’s time to act.

  • Get to higher ground.
  • Evacuate your home if emergency services tell you to do so.
  • Do not walk or drive through flood water.

2. Have a flood plan.

Even if it doesn’t seem likely that you’ll have to leave your home due to flooding, it’s still a good idea to have a plan. Emergencies don’t allow a lot of time for planning. Know where you’re going to go and how you’re going to get there.

  • Be aware of the flood risks in your area.
  • Have an emergency evacuation plan and make sure your family knows what to do.
  • Create or update a family disaster kit.
  • Know if your area has an emergency plan or evacuation procedures.
  • Keep an eye on the TV or listen to the radio to stay updated about the weather situation. Your phone also may have weather alerts. Monitor for weather updates or emergency instructions.

You also may want to consider getting flood insurance. Keep in mind that it can take about a month for a flood insurance policy to take effect.

Summer is prime time for a flash flood.

3. Don’t try to walk or drive through floodwaters.

Even if the water doesn’t look that deep, don’t try to walk or drive through it. You might think that you can handle it, but just six inches of fast-moving floodwater is enough to knock a person off their feet and carry them away, and one foot of fast-moving water is enough to float and sweep a car away.

Water is stronger than it might look. Don’t take any chances.

4. Get to higher ground.

If there’s a possibility of flooding, get to higher ground. Don’t wait. It’s better to be safe than sorry, especially when dealing with a flash flood. Like we said, they happen fast – they’re aptly named.

5. Be careful if you’re camping.

If you’re planning a summer camping trip, be very mindful of where you camp. Don’t hang out too close to a stream or river. It’s really easy for these areas to flood. Also, mind any signs that might be at the campsite or in the area.

6. Take care after the flood.

Be very careful when you return home after a flood. There is still danger, even though the rain has stopped. Here are some things to keep in mind…

  • Don’t return home until it’s declared safe.
  • Be careful of debris in areas where the floodwaters have receded.
  • Don’t drive through areas that were flooded. Even though the waters have receded, the roads might not be stable.
  • Avoid going near standing water. It could be charged with electricity.
  • Clean your home and focus especially on things that were touched by the floodwater. It could have been contaminated with chemicals or sewage.
  • If it’s safe, take photographs of your property. If you have flood insurance, photos may be helpful when it comes to filing your claim. (And remember, flooding is usually excluded from homeowners insurance.)

It's crucial that you don't try to drive through water when there is a flash flood.

Summer can come with some pretty crazy weather, which is why it’s important to be prepared for anything. From tornado safety to severe thunderstorm safety, you need to know what to do in a variety of weather emergencies. Anyways, stay safe this summer.

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