Are You Ready for a Flood?

Know your area's flood risk -- if unsure, in the United States and its territories, call your local American Red Cross chapter or emergency management office. Consult this site's flood map as prepared by FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agencyi. If it has been raining hard for several hours, or steadily raining for several days, be alert to the possibility of a flood. Listen to local radio or TV stations for flood information. Floods Can Take Several Hours to Days to Develop.

  • A flood WATCH means a flood is possible in your area. A flood WARNING means flooding is already occurring or will occur soon in your area.
  • A flood WARNING means flooding is already occurring or will occur soon in your area.

Prepare a Family Disaster Plan

  • Check your homeowner's or renter's insurance to see if it covers flooding. If not, find out how to get flood insurance. 
  • Keep insurance policies, documents, and other valuables in a safe-deposit box.

Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit Containing:

  • First-aid kit and essential medications
  • Canned food and can openerAt least three gallons of water per person (one gallon of water per person for at least 3 days; often more is needed.)
  • At least three gallons of water per person (one gallon of water per person for at least 3 days; often more is needed.)
  • Protective clothing, rainwear, and bedding or sleeping bags
  • Battery-powered radio, flashlight and extra batteriesSpecial items for infants, elderly or disabled family members
  • Special items for infants, elderly or disabled family membersWritten instructions for how to turn off gas and water if authorities advise you to do so (Remember, you'll need a professional to turn them back on.)
  • Written instructions for how to turn off gas and water if authorities advise you to do so (Remember, you'll need a professional to turn them back on.)
  • Identify where you could go if told to evacuate. Choose several places . . . a friend's home in another town, a motel or a shelter.When a flood WATCH is issued . . .

When a flood WATCH is issued . . .

  • Move your furniture and valuables to higher floors of your home.
  • Fill your car's gas tank, in case an evacuation notice is issued.When a flood WARNING is issued . . .

When a flood WARNING is issued . . .

  • Listen to local radio and TV stations for information and advice. If told to evacuate, do so as soon as possible.

When a flash flood WATCH is issued . . .

  • Be alert to signs of flash flooding and be ready to evacuate on a moment's notice.

When a flash flood WARNING is issued...

  • Or if you think it has already started, evacuate immediately. You may have only seconds to escape. Act quickly!
  • Move to higher ground away from rivers, streams, creeks and storm drains.
  • o not drive around barricades . . . they are there for your safety.If your car stalls in rapidly rising waters, abandon it immediately and climb to higher ground.
  • If your car stalls in rapidly rising waters, abandon it immediately and climb to higher ground.

Plan and Get Ready

Prolonged rainfall over several days can cause a river or stream to overflow and flood the surrounding area. A flash flood from a broken dam or levee or after intense rainfall of one inch (or more) per hour often catches people unprepared.

Regardless, the rule for being safe is simple: head for the high ground and stay away from the water. Even a shallow depth of fast-moving flood water provides more force than most people imagine. The most dangerous thing you can do is to try walking, swimming or driving through such swift water.

Still you can take steps to prepare for these types of emergencies. Have various members of the family do each of the items on the checklist below. Then hold a family meeting to discuss and finalize your Family Disaster Plan.

Checklist

____Determine whether you're in a flood area.

Flood area: Yes ___ No ___

____If in a flood area, is flooding covered under your homeowner's or renter's insurance policy?

Flood insurance: Yes ____ No: ____

If flooding is not covered under your homeowner's or renter's policy, flood insurance is available from:

____________________________________________________________

Keep current copies of all important papers and valuables in a safe-deposit box.

Location of safe-deposit box: _________________________

____Put together a Disaster Supplies Kit in a clearly labeled, easy-to-grab box.

Location of Disaster Supplies Kit: ________________________

____Write instructions on how and when to turn off your utilities--electricity, gas, and water.

Instructions written: ___________________________

____Decide where your family would go in case you must evacuate. Clear your plan with the relatives or friends you plan to stay with--or, in the United States, go to an American Red Cross shelter. Also, get an extra map and mark two alternate ways to reach that destination. Add the map to your Disaster Supplies Kit.

Evacuation plan completed: ______________________________