Safety Tip of the Month: Be 'Flood Smart'

The Safety Tip of the Month is provided by U.Va.'s Office of Emergency Preparedness on the 11th of every month.

April 11, 2012 — As we have learned from natural disasters, nature is an unpredictable force, and one of its harshest effects can be flooding. Flash flooding is the No. 1 weather-related killer in the U.S. We live in an area that is prone to flash flooding and for that reason, we must be prepared.

The following are a few tips to become "flood smart."

Know the terminology:

    • A flood WATCH means a flood is possible in the specified area.
    • A flood WARNING means flooding is occurring or will occur very soon in the specified area.

Flash floods can take only a few minutes to a few hours to develop:

    • A flash flood WATCH means flash flooding is possible in your area.
    • A flash flood WARNING means a flash flood is occurring or will occur very soon.

If flooding is forecast, instructs you to:

  • Listen to the radio or television for information.
  • Be aware that flash flooding can occur. If there is any possibility of a flash flood, move immediately to higher ground. Do not wait for instructions to move.
  • Be aware of stream, drainage channels, canyons and other areas known to flood suddenly. Flash floods can occur in these areas with or without typical warnings such as rain clouds or heavy rain.

If you must prepare to evacuate, you should do the following:

  • Secure your home. If you have time, bring in outdoor furniture. Move essential items to an upper floor.
  • Turn off utilities at the main switches or valves if instructed to do so. Disconnect electrical appliances. Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.

If you must leave your home, remember these evacuation tips:

  • Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can make you fall. If you have to walk in water, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
  • Do not drive into flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely. You and the vehicle can be swept away quickly.
  • Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams, rivers or creeks, particularly during threatening conditions.

For information contact U.Va.'s Office of Emergency Preparedness at 434-982-0565 or