When a body of water overflows, or if water is unable to drain or recede properly, it can spill over onto streets and other areas of land. If this happens, the area can quickly become submerged in water within a short time, destroying property and even taking lives. This is known as flooding, and it is one of the most destructive, and common of natural disasters. This is particularly true in areas that are situated near rivers or are in low-lying areas. When flooding occurs it can take several days, or it may happen unexpectedly and without warning. The latter type of flood is known as a flash flood. Regardless of the type of flood, people should know what to expect, and how to handle any potential problems.
Preparing Before the Flood
Before a flood begins, there are steps that people should take that will help prepare themselves, their families, and their property. Much of this preparation should be done in advance as some types of flooding, such as flash floods, can occur without warning. When this happens an unprepared person puts his or her home and life at risk. When a person first moves onto a property, he or she should learn important facts about it such as the elevation. In addition, they should make a record of their personal property. It is also important that people have flood insurance to cover any losses caused by the flooding.
A plan of action is also a necessity, and it will help to ensure a person's safety. This plan of action should include an evacuation plan and an emergency kit. A quality plan of action will detail what steps must be taken prior to evacuation, such as turning off the gas, water, and electricity. Several escape routes should also be selected in the event that a road is flooded or otherwise inaccessible. If a family is evacuating, they should select a place where they can meet if they become separated during the evacuation. In addition to a meeting place, it is also advisable to have a point of contact. The best person is someone who lives in an area that is not affected by the flood.
When creating an emergency kit, it should contain first aid supplies, clothing, and a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio. In addition, the kit should also contain additional batteries, flashlights and sleeping supplies. The purpose of the NOAA radio is to alert people of weather warnings or watches as they occur. To get the most out of weather warnings, people must understand what some of the standard terms mean. When flooding is possible it is called a "Flood Watch." When a flash flood is a possibility, there will be a "Flash Flood Watch." When a flood or flash flood is occurring, it is called a "Flash Flood Warning" or a "Flood Warning." An "Urban and Small Stream Advisory" means that small streams and low-lying areas are flooding.
What to do When Heavy Rain Starts
Heavy rains are often the cause of flooding. For this reason, it is important that people exercise caution on days of severe rain. This is particularly true for people who live in places that are susceptible to flooding. When the forecast is heavy rain, or if it is currently raining, people will want to protect their belongings. One way to do this is to tie down garden equipment or furniture to prevent it from washing away in flood water. Inside the home, valuables should be moved to a higher level or to a second floor of the house. In the event that an evacuation is necessary, people will want to fill their cars with gas as soon as possible. As it continues to rain, the radio or television should be left on so that people can hear the weather forecast or any warnings.
If there is a flash flood warning, it is advisable for people to move to higher ground and avoid any area that has a history of flooding quickly. If flooding has already started, avoid walking or driving through any area that has water that is moving. Flood water can sweep a vehicle away if it rises too high. Walking through moving water is equally dangerous. A person can easily be knocked over by moving water that's as low as six inches.
After the Flood
Following a flood damage can be overwhelming, and the potential for injury remains a threat. Most importantly people in flood areas will need to avoid any contact with potential flood water. Moving water will still have the potential to knock down and carry away both children and adults. At times flood water may be charged by power lines that fell or may have been contaminated with gas, sewage, or oil. If a person comes into actual contact with flood water, he or she should wash their hands with soap and water that is uncontaminated. Even drinking water from the tap should be avoided until it has been declared safe to drink by local news sources. To prevent accidental injury or death from fallen power lines, the power company must be contacted as soon as possible. Even roads may prove dangerous as flood waters may have caused weakening. If flood water has come into contact with a person's home or belongings, the insurance company or its representative should be contacted as quickly as possible to assess the damage.