If your area is under a flash flood warning, you need to take action. The warning means a flood is happening or is about to happen. Here’s how to stay safe during flash flood warnings.
What to Do During a Flash Flood Warning
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What to do during a flash flood warning
A flash flood is a flood that happens quickly. Flash floods are caused by a damn breaking or massive amounts of rain falling in less than six hours or so.¹
Get to higher ground
Image: Syed Qaarif Andrabi, Pexels
Higher ground means exactly what it sounds like. Get higher:
- If you’re outside, get out of low-lying areas like valleys, gulches, ditches, river beads, and areas with streams. Stay off bridges since they can wash away quickly without notice.
- If you’re in your home or a business and see flood waters approaching, move to the second floor of the building. If there isn’t a second floor, consider going to the roof. The roof is only an option if there is no other option. When you’re on the roof, signal for help. Don't go into the attic; you may get trapped there.
- If you’re trapped in your car, call for help. If water is leaking in, get onto the roof.
If you have an emergency kit, grab it.
Find out how to buy or assemble a kit with our emergency kit how-to guide.
Listen to NOAA Weather Radio, or stay tuned to your local television station for important information about the flash flood warning.
Check out our flood zone guide to see where you land on the national flood map.
Stay out of the water
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Floodwaters aren’t like a day at the lake. They can carry you away. Even as little as six inches of water can knock an adult to the ground and sweep them away. Just a foot of water can carry away a vehicle.²
Whether you're in a car or walking, don't drive around barricades. Remember, turn around, don’t drown.
Other than drowning, there is another reason to stay out of the water. Floodwater can contain contaminants like feces, gasoline, and other dangerous chemicals.
If you can get to your home’s breaker box without standing in water, turn off your home’s power with dry hands. This can prevent electrical shocks as the water rises.
Also, turn off your home's gas at the main gas service shutoff valve to prevent gas leaks.
Related articles on SafeWise
- Texas State, “Severe Weather Toolkit, Flooding.” Accessed April 13, 2022.
- Ready.gov, “Floods,” December 2021. Accessed April 13, 2022.