SAFETY NOTES - Flooding: common destructive hazard in states
Story by: Garrison Safety Office
It was late on May 3 when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers blasted a hole in a Mississippi levee to save the town of Cairo, Ill., from flood water, leaving me with one thought, "Hope for the best, prepare for the worst."
The best way to protect yourself and Family members against severe weather and emergency situations is to be prepared. According to the National Weather Service, flooding is the number one killer, as far as storms are concerned. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, floods are one of the most common hazards in the U.S. As we have seen in the news, flood effects can be local, impacting a neighborhood or community or even affecting entire river basins and multiple states.
Be aware of flood hazards no matter where you live, but especially if you live in a low-lying area, near water or downstream from a dam. Even very small streams, gullies, creeks, culverts, dry streambeds or low-lying ground that appears harmless in dry weather can flood.
Every state is at risk for flooding. There are steps you can take to better prepare yourself and your Family for floods – Get a kit, make a plan and be informed.
Planning for the worst will protect you, your Family, (sometimes) your property, finances and peace of mind. Prepare a Family disaster plan and assemble an emergency preparedness kit. This is what you already know, but it bears repeating:
• Six inches of swiftly moving water can knock you off your feet, so don't walk through flooded areas.
• Flooded streets may hide areas of washed-out streets. Water may be much deeper than it appears. So, turn around, don't drown. More people drown in their cars than anywhere else during flooding.
• Flash flood waters can roll boulders, tear out trees, destroy buildings and obliterate bridges.
• Electric current passes easily through water, so stay away from downed power lines and electrical wires. Electrocution is a major source of deaths in floods.
FEMA recommends the following if flooding occurs:
• If advised to evacuate; leave immediately
• If there is time, shut off utilities at the main switches
• If there is time, move furniture and valuables to a higher floor
• If the waters start to rise inside your house before you have evacuated, retreat to the second floor, the attic, and if necessary, the roof
• Take personal necessities like medications, eyeglasses, dry clothing, a flashlight and a portable radio with you. Then wait for help.
• Don't try to swim to safety; wait for rescuers to come to you
• If outdoors, climb to high ground and stay there
Did you know that more than half of all flood-related deaths are drownings that result from vehicles caught in flood waters that are swept away.
TERMS TO KNOW
• A flood watch means that a flood is possible in your area.
• A flood warning means flooding is already occurring or will occur soon in your area.
For more information on emergency preparedness, visit the Fort Riley Ready Army web site at www.riley.army.mil/UnitPage.aspx?unit=ReadyArmy.