Flooding is one of the most dangerous threats to life and property year-round in the U.S. Every year, flooding causes more deaths than all other thunderstorm related hazards. Over half of all flood-related drownings happen when people drive into flood waters. Many of these deaths are preventable, but too many people continue to drive into moving water or around road barriers warning of flooded roads.
Just 6 inches of fast-moving flood water can knock an adult down. It takes just a foot of rushing water to carry away a small car and two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles, including four wheel drives and even 18 wheelers! The next largest flood-related cause of death is from people walking into or near flood waters. Water is powerful and it’s never safe to drive or walk into flood waters. So when you come across water covering the road, remember the phrase “Turn Around, Don’t Drown!”.
It’s important to know the different types of flooding and the warnings that come with them. The most imminent danger is from flash floods and a Flash Flood Warning means it’s time to take action! If you are in a flood prone area, you should move to high ground immediately. Flash floods are sudden violent floods that can develop in just minutes. It’s quite possible to have flash floods in areas where it’s not even raining – the water always comes from higher elevations.
Flood Warnings also mean to take action, immediately and usually apply to bodies of water like lakes and rivers. When you see Flash Flood or Flood Watches, it means flooding is possible in your area and you should be ready to take action if a warning is issued.
Always listen to your local authorities for actions to take and if they advise evacuation, do it as quickly and safely as possible.
Story by: John Van Pelt.