Special to GUIDON
Flooding is the most common natural disaster and can occur anywhere.
It can be localized in a particular neighborhood or widespread, affecting entire cities or large portions of states and territories.
Floods can develop over a period of days, giving you adequate time to prepare; however, flash floods can develop in a matter of minutes. Flash flood waters can be caused by heavy rain, levee breaches or dam failures.
Rushing flood waters can be deeper and stronger than they look. These waters are also destructive and can carry debris, rocks and mud.
Here are some tips to distinguish between the different flood alerts:
— Flood Watch — Flooding is possible. Stay tuned to radio or TV for more information.
— Flash Flood Watch —Flash flooding is possible. Stay tuned to radio or TV for more information. Be prepared to move to higher ground.
— Flood Warning —Flooding is currently occurring or will occur soon. Listen for further instructions. If told to evacuate, do so immediately.
— Flash Flood Warning—Flash flooding is currently occurring or will occur soon. Seek higher ground on foot immediately.
Once you know the terminology, preparing for the coming flood is the next step. Here are some tips:
— Determine whether your home or work place is in a predetermined flood plain.
— Get an emergency supply kit, and store it where it can be accessed.
— Know your installation’s plan, and develop an evacuation procedure as a family.
— Create a personal flood file containing information about all your possessions and keep it in a secure place, such as a safe deposit box or waterproof container. This file should have a copy of your insurance policies with your agents’ contact information.
— For insurance purposes, keep a written and visual (i.e., videotaped or photographed) record of major household items and valuables. Create files that include serial numbers and store receipts for major appliances and electronics. These documents are critically important when filing insurance claims.
—Develop a family emergency plan.
— Create a safety kit with drinking water, canned food, first aid, blankets, a radio and a flashlight.
— Post emergency numbers by the phone and teach your children how to dial 911.
— Plan and practice a flood evacuation route with your family. Know safe routes from home, work and school that are on higher ground.
— Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to be your emergency family contact.
— Keep enough fuel in your car’s tank to evacuate.
If a flood has arrived, there are several things you should do:
— Stay tuned to the radio or TV for further information and instructions.
— If you are ordered to evacuate: take only essential items, turn off gas, electricity and water, disconnect appliances, do not walk or drive in moving water and follow the designated evacuation procedure.
— If you are not ordered to evacuate, stay tuned to emergency stations on radio or TV, listen for further instructions and prepare to evacuate to a shelter or a neighbor’s home if your home is damaged.
— Once you are in a safe place, report to your command if you are military or government civilian personnel or a member of the selective reserves.
— Stay clear of flood waters, standing and moving, as they may be contaminated or deeper than expected.
— Beware of downed power lines.
— Avoid any roads where flood waters have receded as they may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car.
— Be extremely cautious when entering buildings; there may be unseen damage.
— Clean and disinfect everything that was touched by flood water, as it can contain sewage and other contaminants.
For additional information, visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency at https://www.ready.gov/floods
(Editor’s note: this article is from the Ready Army Flood Fact Sheet.)