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Turn Around & Don’t Drown: Flood Safety Tips

- April 25, 2017 by Dan Heinen, ASP (View all posts by Dan)

As winter fades away, temperatures rise, and the sun shines! We can finally stop worrying about driving in snow. However, with the seasonal change comes a new situation to be aware of: flooding. As the weather gets warmer and the snow melts away, the ground may become saturated preventing it from absorbing water. This can lead to flooded yards, fields and roads.

Every year you can turn on the TV or radio and see or hear about a person or a family being swept away while trying to cross a flooded road. I live in the Midwest, and not in a location one would think is typically a flood-prone area. But in the winter of 2015 four people within ten miles of my home were killed by doing exactly that, trying to drive down or cross a flooded road.  There are many YouTube videos available online that show not only the hidden dangers of a flooded road or area such as downed power lines, raw sewage, and open manhole but how fast the water can rise and the power it possesses.

According to the Center for Disease Control, the majority of flood-related drowning deaths are people who either drive or walk into a flooded area, often ignoring warning signs and barriers.  These accidents are preventable, but people have to recognize that water is incredibly powerful.  How powerful?  According to the National Weather Service when water is rushing or fast moving:

  • 6 inches—can knock over an adult
  • 2 feet—can carry most vehicles away, even pickups and SUVs

Flooding is a serious hazard. The National Weather Service has tips for navigating around flooded areas on their website. They suggest these basic safety rules when out and about:

  • Monitor the NOAA Weather Radio, or your favorite news source for vital weather related information.
  • If flooding occurs, get to higher ground. Get out of areas subject to flooding including dips, low spots, canyons, washes, etc.
  • Avoid areas already flooded, especially if the water is flowing fast. Do not attempt to cross flowing streams.
  • Road beds may be washed out under flood waters. NEVER drive through flooded roadways.
  • Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams and washes, particularly during threatening conditions.
  • Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers” (“Turn Around”).

Have you, or someone you know, been a victim of a flood? Share your story so we can prevent others from becoming a victim.