What to Do During a Flash Flood Warning

If your area is under a flash flood warning, you need to get 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.

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What is a flash flood?

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

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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. 

Checklist
How to get an emergency kit

Find out how to buy or assemble a kit with our emergency kit how-to guide.

Stay informed

Listen to NOAA Weather Radio, or stay tuned to your local television station for important information about the flash flood warning.

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Will your house flood?

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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Image: Luke Miller, Pexels 

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. 

Checklist
Turn off the gas and power

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


Sources

  1. Texas State, “Severe Weather Toolkit, Flooding.” Accessed April 13, 2022.
  2. Ready.gov, “Floods,” December 2021. Accessed April 13, 2022.
Alina Bradford
Written by
Alina Bradford
Alina is a safety and security expert that has contributed her insights to CNET, CBS, Digital Trends, MTV, Top Ten Reviews, and many others. Her goal is to make safety and security gadgets less mystifying one article at a time. In the early 2000s, Alina worked as a volunteer firefighter, earning her first responder certification and paving the way to her current career. Her activities aren’t nearly as dangerous today. Her hobbies include fixing up her 100-year-old house, doing artsy stuff, and going to the lake with her family.

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