Flood Preparedness – What you NEED to know
Flooding is the #1 most common type of natural disaster worldwide, accounting for almost 40% of natural disasters. In terms of fatalities, it is the leading cause of natural disaster deaths. 44% of all people killed worldwide due to natural disasters/weather are killed due to flooding. In 1931 alone, over 3.7 MILLION Chinese died in a series of flooding incidents.
It is the most costly natural disaster in terms of damage. In 1993, flooding caused an average of $2.4 billion dollars damage a year in the US. Between 2003 and 2013, insurance estimates on damage from flooding rose above $4 billion per year. Today those numbers are even higher!
There are three different types of flooding:
- Coastal Flood – typically occurs near oceans, is caused by storm surges and/or tidal waves. Waves can reach as high as 25 feet due to the strength of the storm
- River/bank Flood – occurs when rain or snowfall cause a river to swell past its banks and move inland. In flatter areas, the water could last for days. In mountainous areas, the water is faster but dissipates more quickly. This can also happen when the ground is over saturated and can no longer dissipate it quickly enough
- Flash Flood – a sudden excess of water, generally fast moving. This could be from a huge amount of rain upstream, a sudden release of water from an ice jam, or damage to a dam or levee.
Hurricane and tornado related deaths have declined over the last 20 years, as advances in weather forecasting technology and communications have made it easier to be forewarned about approaching storms. But the number of flood related deaths has remained relatively consistent over the past 20 years.
The number one cause of death from flooding in the US has been automobile related, ie driving into flooded areas. Almost half of the deaths from floods in 2013 occurred in a vehicle.
Flood water only six inches deep has the ability to knock you off your feet. That amount of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars; this depth can cause loss of control or possible stalling as water is sucked into the exhaust or washes into the air intake. At about 2 feet, it can carry a vehicle away. So NEVER drive into a flooded area. Water can hide dips or holes, so don’t risk it!
If you find yourself in a flood situation, keep the following tips in mind:
- If told to evacuate the area, do so as quickly, calmly, and safely as possible.
- If water starts to rise before the evacuation has been completed, move to higher level, including roofs if necessary.
- Floodwaters may carry raw sewage, chemical waste and other disease-spreading substances. If contact is made with floodwaters, wash with soap and clean hot water is necessary.
- Do NOT drink from contaminated sources (filters such as a Sawyer Mini or Lifestraw do NOT remove contaminates.)
- Do not walk through floodwaters. As I mentioned earlier, as little as 6 inches of water can knock you off your feet. In addition to the possible contamination, there could be live, downed power lines in the water.
- Do NOT use vehicles to drive into flood water; just 2 feet of water can wash away a vehicle.
- Turn electrical appliances OFF. Electric current passes easily through water, so stay away from downed power lines, electrical wires, and any electrical devices
- Move furniture and important items to higher levels in your house and bring in any outdoor furniture/items
You don’t know what the flood water is hiding. Turn around! Don’t drown!
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