February - Tailgate Safe Tips: Flash Flood Preparation
Tailgate Safe Tips: Flash Flood Preparation
Spring is "just around the corner" and with it, we sometimes in many areas, will experience the dreaded unplanned and unannounced flash flooding. There are some mitigating ideas or ways that we can reduce the accidents. Knowing what to expect is the first key to reducing the potential for losses.
- Find out whether or not your area is in a flood zone. (It could be a zone and never has flooded). Call your local Red Cross office, emergency management office, local planning and zoning office and they should be able to help you.
- If it has rained for several hours or rained steadily for several days, you should be alert for the possibility of a flood.
- Listen to your local radio station and/television station for updated news on flood conditions.
- Check in your home to see if the furnace, water heater, and electrical panel need to be raised to keep it above a potential high water level.
- Obviously, this is a judgment call and you might want to get an opinion from another source or someone that might be more familiar with the area than yourself.
- Consult with a professional for other information that can reduce the potential for losses or injuries.
As we realize from observing or listening, floods can normally take hours to develop. However, an unexpected "Flash" flood can develop in a few minutes. Sometimes, because of artificial circumstances and not necessarily an "Act of God", an area will flood when it has never flooded before. I know from experience. My wife owned a gift shop in west Tennessee and the area wasn't tabbed as a flood plain. We received, in the early part of the night until midnight, 6.5 inches of rain. Our shop had 30 inches of water when the chief of police called, picked me up and took me in his high pickup to check it out. We experienced a considerable loss along with other businesses in the strip center. We later found out that a mobile home dealer was using the small river behind the center for disposing of used furniture from his traded-in mobile homes. Obviously, this shouldn't have been a natural flood plane, but negligence created a man-made dam and resulted in multiple losses to several businesses. Ours was being the worst because we were located in the lowest area.
ALERTS THAT WE SHOULD BE AWARE OF THEIR MEANING
- Flood Watch - This means that a flood is possible for the area.
- Flood Warning - This means that flooding is already occurring or will soon be in your area.
- Flash Flood - This means flooding is occurring or will be occurring in a short period of time.
When a flood watch is issued:
- Move furniture and valuables to higher floors. If this isn't possible (no higher floors), attempt to move it out of the house to locations with higher elevations.
- Fill vehicle gas tanks, in case an evacuation notice is issued.
- When a flood warning is issued:
- Listen to local radio and television stations for information and advice. If told to evacuate, do it as soon as possible. Be familiar with the area and the evacuation routes that will evade water-covering roadways.
When a flash flood watch is issued:
- Be alert to signs of flooding.
- Be ready and prepared to evacuate at a moment's notice.
- When a flash flood warning is issued:
- Evacuate immediately, you may only have seconds to escape. Act Quickly!
- Move to higher ground away from rivers, creeks and storm drains. Do not drive around barricades; they are there to promote your safety.
If you do get into rising waters and your car stalls, get out immediately and climb to higher ground.
Excerpts: U.S. Navy Safety Center
Ted Gordon is the Risk Management/Loss Control Manager for the Mississippi State University Extension Service and the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station. His office is located in the North Mississippi Research and Extension Center, in Verona, MS. His telephone number is 662-566-2201.