Staying Safe During Floods

Floods are among the most common and devastating natural disasters in the United States, and Idaho is no exception. In conjunction with Flood Awareness Week in Idaho, the Idaho Office of Emergency Management (IOEM) urges all residents to take proactive steps to ensure their safety and the safety of their loved ones during flood events.

Floods occur when water overflows onto normally dry land. They can result from various factors such as heavy rain, snowmelt, storm surges, dam failures, and more. Floods can develop slowly or quickly, with flash floods posing a particularly dangerous threat due to their sudden onset and swift-moving waters. It’s crucial to recognize the potential hazards associated with floods and take appropriate actions to stay safe.

Responding to Flood Warnings

If you find yourself under a flood warning, swift action is crucial:

  • Find safe shelter immediately: Avoid areas prone to flooding and seek higher ground.
  • Never attempt to walk, swim, or drive through floodwaters: Just six inches of moving water can knock you down, and one foot of moving water can sweep away your vehicle. Remember, “Turn Around, Don’t Drown!
  • Stay off bridges over fast-moving water: These structures can become unstable during floods and pose significant risks to motorists and pedestrians alike.

Depending on the severity of the flooding and official directives:

  • Evacuate if told: Follow evacuation orders issued by local authorities without hesitation.
  • Move to higher ground or a higher floor: Seek elevated locations to minimize your exposure to floodwaters.
  • Stay where you are: If evacuation is not necessary or possible, remain indoors and await further instructions.

Preparing for a Flood

Preparedness is key to mitigating the impact of floods on your household:

  • Know your flood risk: Utilize resources such as FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center to understand the flood risk in your area.
  • Sign up for emergency alerts: Stay informed about potential hazards and emergency alerts by signing up for the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio
  • Purchase flood insurance: Standard homeowner’s insurance policies typically do not cover flood damage. Invest in flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to safeguard your property.
  • Create an emergency plan: Establish evacuation routes, shelter plans, and communication strategies for your family and pets. Stockpile essential supplies including non-perishable foods, water, and medical provisions.

During a Flood

When faced with flooding conditions, prioritize your safety:

  • Follow evacuation orders: Listen to instructions from local authorities and emergency responders.
  • Avoid driving through flooded areas: Obey road closures and barricades to prevent accidents and facilitate rescue efforts.
  • Stay informed: Tune into emergency broadcasts and weather updates via the EAS, NOAA Weather Radio, or local alerting systems.
  • Exercise caution around floodwaters: Refrain from walking, swimming, or driving through flooded areas, and stay clear of bridges over fast-moving water.

After a Flood

Recovery efforts following a flood require careful consideration and attention to safety:

  • Wait for official clearance to return home: Do not re-enter flood-affected areas until authorities deem it safe to do so.
  • Continue to exercise caution: Wear appropriate protective gear and be mindful of potential hazards such as contaminated water, debris, and electrical dangers. Watch out for snakes and other animals that may have sought refuge indoors. Avoid contact with electrical equipment and downed power lines.
  • Use generators outdoors: Keep generators and other gasoline-powered machinery away from enclosed spaces to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

By staying informed, prepared, and vigilant, you can significantly reduce the risks associated with floods and protect you and those around you. For more information on preparing before a flooding event, visit the following resources: