Floods occur regularly across the country, causing evacuations, widespread damage and even death. Those living near waterways of other low-lying areas are most at risk, but anyone in a community susceptible to flooding can be affected. Hazards range from potentially deadly flash flooding to water contamination due to broken gasoline or sewer lines.

Before a Flood

  • Consider purchasing flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program. Regular homeowners' insurance does not cover flood issues.
  • Know how to get to higher ground from your home.
  • Learn your community's flood evacuation routes.
  • Ask local officials how you can protect your home.
  • If your home is prone to flooding, move your furnace, water heater and electric panel to higher floors.
  • Install "check valves" in sewer traps to prevent water from backing up into your house.
  • Waterproof your basement walls to stop seepage.
  • Build barriers such as floodwalls or levees to keep out floodwater.
  • Store insurance policies, deeds and other records in a safe-deposit box.

    During a Flood

  • Stay tuned to radio or TV for updates.
  • Watch for flash flooding. This can occur without rain clouds or rain in the immediate area.
  • Avoid low-lying areas such as canyons and drainage channels.
  • Never walk through moving water more than 6 inches deep.
  • Do not drive through flooded areas. Cars can easily be swept away in just 2 feet of moving water. Go here for information on NOAA's "Turn Aound, Don't Drown" program.
  • If your vehicle stalls in water, exit it and move to higher ground.
  • Evacuate if instructed to by authorities, and return home only when they say it's safe.

    After a Flood

  • Be careful in areas where floodwaters have receded.
  • Stay out of flooded buildings.
  • Use caution when entering damaged structures. Their foundations may have weakened.
  • Avoid coming in contact with floodwater - it may be contaminated. Wash your hands if they get wet.
  • Discard any food that has been in contact with floodwater.

    Beware of Landslides

  • Look for changes in the landscape, such as small slides, leaning trees, poles or fences, widening cracks in the driveway or street; of the ground bulging out at the base of a slope of hill.
  • Be prepared to evacuate if you feel threatened.
  • While driving, watch for signs like fallen rocks and mud in the roadway. Embankments along roadsides can slide with little or no notice.
  • Move quickly away from the path of a slide.
  • If you cannot escape, curl into a ball and protect your head.

    For Your Information

  • Flood Watch - Flooding is possible within 12 to 36 hours.
  • Flash Flood Watch - Flash flooding is possible and could occur without warning. Prepare to move to higher ground if you are at risk.
  • Flood Warning - Flooding is or soon will be occurring. Evacuate immediately if advised.
  • Flash Flood Warning - Flash flooding is occurring. Move to higher ground at once if you are at risk.

    Information provided by the Virginia Office of EMS Emergency Prepardness Guide.

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