Flood Safety

Updated 01/05/2011

Floods are the most common and widespread of all natural disasters, except fire. Most communities in the United States can experience some kind of flooding after spring rain, heavy thunderstorms, or winter snow melts. Flash floods usually result from intense storms dropping large amounts of rain within a brief period. Flash floods occur with little or no warning and can reach full peak in only a few minutes. If you live in a flood-prone area, monitor the potential for weather conditions that could result in flooding. With enough advance warning you can take steps to protect your home, move possessions or, in the worse case, plan for an evacuation.

There are some simple rules to remember to keep you and your family safe if a flood should affect you.
  • Do not walk through flowing water: Drowning is the number one cause of flood deaths, mostly during flash floods. Currents can be deceptive; six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet. If you walk in standing water, use a pole or stick to ensure that the ground is still there. It may seem like a lot of fun, but it is not a good idea to let your children play in flooded areas. Besides the danger of drowning or injury, a person can become very sick if the water is ingested.
  • Do not drive through a flooded area: More people drown in cars than anywhere else. Don’t drive around road barriers; the road or bridge may be washed out or the water may be deep. A car can float in only two feet of water. Barriers are also placed to prevent "wakes" from damaging homes and parked cars.
  • Look before you step: After a flood, the ground and floors are covered with debris that may include broken glass. Wear study shoes that have a thick non-slip sole. Floors and stairs that have been covered with mud or slime can be very slippery.
  • Stay away from power lines and electrical wires: The number two flood killer after drowning is electrocution. Electrical currents can travel through water. Report downed power lines to Commonwealth Edison.
  • Have your electricity turned off by Com-Ed: Some appliances, such as television sets and computers, keep electrical charges even after they have been unplugged. Don’t use appliances or motors such as in your washer or dryer that have gotten wet unless they have been taken apart, cleaned, and dried. And never enter a flooded basement unless you know the power has been turned off. The water level may be above the electrical outlets or there may be a submerged electrical cord.
  • Be alert for gas leaks: Use a flashlight to inspect for damage. Don’t smoke or use candles, lanterns, or open flames unless you know the gas has been turned off and the area ventilated.
  • Throw away food: This includes any canned goods that have come in contact with floodwater.
  • Remember to help your neighbors: Especially those that are elderly, have disabilities, or those with infants.
Additional information is available at the FEMA website.