In light of the current severe weather outbreak in Pennsylvania, a few counties were placed under a flash flood warning. On average, more people are killed by flooding than by any other single severe weather hazard, including tornadoes, lightning, and hurricanes. Most of these deaths occur at night, when it is more difficult to recognize flood dangers, and when people are trapped in vehicles. Do you and your family know what to do in case of a flood?
To start, what exactly does a flash flood watch mean? Be Prepared! A Flood Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for a specific hazardous weather event to occur. A Flood Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for flooding. It does not mean flooding will occur, but it is possible. A flash flood warning means to Take Action! A Flash Flood Warning is issued when a flash flood is imminent or occurring. If you are in a flood prone area move immediately to high ground. A flash flood is a sudden violent flood that can take from minutes to hours to develop. It is even possible to experience a flash flood in areas not immediately receiving rain. There is also a flood advisory that is used when a specific weather event that is forecast to occur may become a nuisance. A Flood Advisory is issued when flooding is not expected to be bad enough to issue a warning. However, it may cause significant inconvenience, and if caution is not exercised, it could lead to situations that may threaten life and/or property.
It is always best to be prepared and aware of what could potentially happen during any severe weather event. Here are some safety tips to remember:
DO NOT drive onto a flooded roadway.
DO NOT drive through flowing water.
If you approach a roadway that is flooded, TURN AROUND – DON’T DROWN.
Drive with extreme caution if roads are even just wet or it is raining. You can lose control of your vehicle if hydroplaning occurs, which is when a layer of water builds up between your tires and the road, causing there to be no direct contact between your vehicle and the road.
If a flash flood warning is issued for your area, if advised to evacuate, do so immediately!
Get out of areas that are subject to flooding and move to a safe area before access is cut off by flood waters. Low spots such as dips, canyons, and washes are not the places you want to be during flooding.
DO NOT camp or park your vehicle along streams and washes, particularly during threatening conditions.
DO NOT drive if not necessary. If driving is necessary, do not attempt to drive over a flooded road, as the depth of the water is not always obvious, and the roadway may no longer be intact under the water. Never drive around a barricade, they are placed there for your protection! If your vehicle stalls, leave it immediately and move to higher ground before water sweeps you and your vehicle away.
DO NOT try to walk, swim, or play in flood water. You may not be able to determine if there are holes or submerged debris, or how quickly the water is flowing, and you may be swept away. If water is moving swiftly, as little as 6 inches of water can knock you off of your feet! There is also a danger of hazardous materials polluting the water. Also remember that water is an electrical conductor, if there are power lines down, there is a possibility of electrocution.
Always continue to monitor the situation through the National Weather Service website, your NOAA Weather Radio All-Hazards, or favorite local television or radio stations.
Why is TURN AROUND, DON’T DROWN so important? Each year, more deaths occur due to flooding than from any other severe weather related hazard. The main reason is people underestimate the force and power of water. More than half of all flood related deaths result from vehicles being swept downstream. Of these, many are preventable. So, whenever you see a flooded roadway, turn around. Don’t try to drive through it, you never know how deep it really is.