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Campus Preparedness > Emergency Tips

Flood Tips

Floods are the most common and widespread of all-natural hazards.

Be aware of flood hazards, especially if you live in a low-lying area, near water or downstream from a dam.

What To Do Before a Flood

  • Know the terms used to describe flooding:

    • Flood Watch
      Issued when flooding is possible. Stay tuned to NOAA radio or commercial radio or television for additional information.
    • Flash Flood Watch
      Issued when flash flooding is possible. Move to higher ground. A flash flood could occur without any warning. Listen to NOAA radio or commercial radio or television for additional information.
    • Flood Warning
      Issued when flooding is occurring or will occur soon. If advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
    • Flash Flood Warning
      Issued when a flash flood is occurring. Seek higher ground on foot immediately.
    • Urban and Small Stream Advisory
      Issued when flooding of small streams, streets and low-lying areas is occurring.

  • Learn the elevation level of your property. This will help you know how your property will be affected when flood levels are forecasted.
  • Identify dams in your area and determine whether they pose a hazard.
  • Ask your local emergency manager about official flood warning signals. Learn what to do when you hear them. Purchase a NOAA Weather Radio with battery backup.
  • Be prepared to evacuate. Learn your community’s flood evacuation routes and where to find high ground.
  • Talk to your family about flooding. Plan a place to meet your family in case you are separated from one another. Choose an out-of-state contact for everyone to call to say they are okay.
  • Determine any special needs your neighbors might have.
  • Assemble a disaster supplies kit. Include a battery-operated radio, flashlights and extra batteries, first aid supplies, sleeping supplies and clothing. Keep a stock of food and extra drinking water. See Emergency Supplies Checklist.
  • Know how to shut off electricity, gas and water at main switches and valves. Know where gas pilots are located and how the heating system works.
  • Consider purchasing flood insurance.
  • Make a record of your personal property. Take photographs of or videotape your belongings and store them in a safe place.
  • Keep insurance policies, deeds, property records and other important papers in a safe place away from your home.

What To Do During Heavy Rains

  • Be aware of flash floods. If there is any possibility of a flash flood occurring, move immediately to higher ground. Do not wait for instructions to move.
  • Listen to radio or television stations for local information.
  • Be aware of streams, drainage channels and areas known to flood suddenly.
  • If local authorities issue a flood watch, prepare to evacuate.
    • Secure your home.
    • If instructed, turn off utilities at the main switches or valves. Disconnect electrical appliances, but do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.
    • Fill your car with fuel.
    • Fill the bathtub with water in case water becomes contaminated or services cut off. Sterilize the bathtub first.
  • Stay away from floodwaters. They could be contaminated.
  • Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet. If you must walk in a flooded area, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
  • Do not drive into flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground.
  • When deep flooding is likely, permit the floodwaters to flow freely into the basement of your home (or flood the basement yourself with clean water, if you are sure it will be flooded anyway). This will avoid structural damage to the foundation and the house by equalizing the water pressure on the outside of the basement walls and floors.

What To Do After a Flood

  • Stay away from floodwaters. The water may be contaminated by oil gasoline or raw sewage. The water may also be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.
  • Stay away from moving water.
  • Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded. Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car.
  • Stay away from downed power lines and report them to the power company.
  • Stay away from disaster areas unless authorities ask for volunteers.
  • Continue listening to a battery-powered radio for information.
  • Consider your family’s health and safety needs. Wash your hands frequently with soap and clean water. Listen for news reports to learn whether the community’s water supply is safe to drink.
  • Contact your insurance agent. To prepare:
    • Take photos of or videotape your belongings and your home.
    • Separate damaged and undamaged belongings.
    • Locate your financial records.
    • Keep detailed records of cleanup costs.
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