Floods occur regularly across the country, causing evacuations, widespread damage and even death. Those living near waterways or other low-lying areas are most at risk, but anyone in a community susceptible to flooding can be affected. Hazards range from potentially deadly flash flooding to water contamination due to broken gasoline or sewer lines.

Before a Flood

  • Consider purchasing flood insurance through the Nation Flood Insurance Program. Regular homeowner' insurance does not cover flood losses
  • Know how to get to higher ground from your home
  • Learn your community's flood evacuation routes
  • Ask local officials how you can protect your home

Protecting Your Property

  • If your home is prone to flooding, move your furnace, water heater and electric panel to higher floors
  • Install "check valves" in sewer traps to prevent water from backing up into your house
  • Waterproof your basement walls to stop seepage
  • Build barriers such as flood walls or levees to keep out floodwater
  • Store insurance policies, deeds and other records in a safe-deposit box

During a Flood

  • Stay tuned to radio or TV for updates
  • Watch for flash flooding. This can occur without rain clouds or rain in the immediate area
  • Avoid low-lying areas such as canyons and drainage channels
  • Never walk through moving water more than 6 inches deep
  • Do not drive through flooded areas
  • If your vehicle stalls in water, exit it and move to higher ground
  • Evacuate if instructed to by authorities and return home only when they say it's safe

After a Flood

  • Be careful in areas where floodwaters have receded
  • Watch for downed electrical lines and weakened roads and bridges
  • Stay out of flooded buildings
  • Use caution when entering damaged structures. Their foundations may have weakened
  • Avoid coming into contact with floodwater—it may be contaminated. Wash your hands if they get wet
  • Discard any food that has been in contact with floodwater

Beware of Landslides

  • Look for changes in the landscape, such as small slides; leaning trees, pole or fences; widening cracks in the driveway or street; or the ground bulging out at the base of a slope or hill
  • Be prepared to evacuate if you feel threatened
  • While driving, watch for signs like fallen rocks and mud in the roadway. Embankments along roadsides can slide with little or no notice
  • Move quickly away from the path of the slide
  • If you cannot escape, curl into a ball and protect your head

Terms to Know

  • Flood Watch- Flooding is possible within 12 to 36 hours
  • Flash Flood Watch- Flash flooding is possible and could occur without warning. Prepare to move to higher ground if you are at risk
  • Flood Warning- Flooding is or soon will be occurring. Evacuate immediately if advised
  • Flash Flood Warning- Flash flooding is occurring. Move to higher ground at once if you are at risk

Did You Know

Cars can be easily swept away in just 2 feet of moving water.