Don’t get on the wrong side of a flash flood this summer

Flash floods, like the name implies, happen very quickly and with little warning. Usually the summer months have the highest risk of flash flooding because they happen when areas prone to flooding get a lot of rain in a short period of time – like during a summer rainstorm. Summer storms can turn into deluges that make it hard to see your hand in front of your face.

Since summer storms can create conditions that are ideal for flash floods, we’ve got some summer severe weather tips so that you can stay safe when the sky opens up and dumps buckets of rain, cats, and dogs upon you.

1. Know the lingo.

It’s important to know exactly what you’re up against so that you know what actions to take. Flood alerts follow the same watch-warning system that tornadoes do.

If there’s a flood watch, that means that conditions are right for flooding in your area. To stay safe…

  • Stay tuned to your TV or radio to get updates about the weather and emergency instructions.
  • Know what you’re going to do if the situation turns more severe.
  • Check on your emergency kit (if you don’t have one, summer’s a great time to put together a home disaster kit!)
  • Move outdoor furniture inside.
  • Move the indoor belongings that you want to protect to the highest floor of your home.
  • Unplug electronics – but do not touch electronic devices if you’re standing in water or are soaked.
  • Turn off your gas and electricity if instructed.

If there’s a flood warning, that means that there have been floods in your area or that floods are imminent. This means that you need 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. Don’t walk or drive through floodwater.

This one is really important. The floodwater might not look that deep, and you might think that you can get through it easily. But keep in mind that only six inches of fast-moving water is enough to sweep a person off their feet and carry them away, and one foot of water can take out a vehicle. Water is strong. Don’t try to fight it. It will win.

Don't try to beat a flash flood.

3. Move to higher ground.

If you know that there’s a chance of flooding, get to higher ground. Don’t take any chances or wait to see what might happen. Remember, they’re called flash floods for a reason. According to, flash floods are the leading cause of weather-related fatalities in the United States.

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4. Be careful where you camp.

If it looks like it’s going to be rainy, don’t camp or park near a stream or river. These are prime areas for flash floods, which can happen with little warning. Be careful about where you decide to camp.

5. Know what to do after a flood.

You need to take care when you return to your home after a flood. The danger doesn’t stop when the rain does.

  • Don’t head home until it’s deemed safe to do so.
  • Look out for areas where it looks like flood waters have receded and be careful of debris.
  • Don’t drive through flooded areas. Keep in mind that even if flood waters have retreated from the roads, the streets can be unstable.
  • Avoid standing water. It could be electrified.
  • Clean everything that was touched by floodwater. It could be contaminated with chemicals or sewage.
  • When it’s safe to do so, photograph your property. This will be important for insurance purposes, if you have purchased flood insurance for your home. Remember, flooding is not covered by your homeowners’ policy.

6. Have a flood plan.

It’s important to be prepared for emergencies, especially ones like floods that happen fast. To be prepared, have a plan and know what you’re going to do and where you’re going to go.

  • Know your risk: Be aware of your area’s flood tendencies.
  • Make an emergency evacuation plan and brief your entire family.
  • Create or update your disaster kit.
  • Consider flood insurance for your home.
  • Know your area’s emergency plan: Your town or city might have an evacuation procedure. It’s important that you know where to go and how to get there.
  • If the weather takes a turn for the worse and looks stormy, stay tuned to alerts on your phone, TV, and radio. There might be important weather updates or emergency instructions.

Have a plan for how to deal with flood insurance.

Stay safe this summer! Crazy weather has been known to happen in the summer months as the temperatures climb and the humidity goes haywire. Don’t underestimate what Mother Nature can do.

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