Turn Around -- Don't Drown

April 9, 2000 — Floods are some of the most common and costly disasters in Virginia. Because flooding can happen anytime, anywhere and with little warning, it's vital that you know how to respond quickly. The Hoos Ready Tip of the Month for April is brought to you by the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes.

More deaths occur due to flooding each year than from any other thunderstorm- or hurricane-related hazard. Many of these casualties are a result of careless or unsuspecting motorists who attempt to navigate flooded roads. The National Weather Service now warns anyone who comes to a flooded roadway, "Turn around … don't drown!"

Follow these safety rules:
•     If flooding occurs, get to higher ground. Stay away from flood-prone areas, including dips, low spots, valleys, ditches, washes, etc.
•    Avoid flooded areas or those with rapid water flow. Do not attempt to cross a flowing stream. It takes only six inches of fast flowing water to sweep you off your feet.
•    Don't allow children to play near high water, storm drains or ditches. Hidden dangers could lie beneath the water.
•    Flooded roads could have significant damage hidden by floodwaters. NEVER drive through floodwaters or on flooded roads. If your vehicle stalls, leave it immediately and seek higher ground. Water only two feet deep can float away most automobiles.
•    Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams and washes, particularly when threatening conditions exist.
•    Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.
•    Monitor NOAA Weather Radio or your local media for vital weather-related information.

More information on flood safety is available through the National Weather Service[link to www.noaa.gov/floods.htm] and the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes. Call the toll-free help desk at 1-877-221-SAFE or e-mail flash@flash.org.

For information on flooding and other emergencies, visit the Web site of U.Va.'s Office of Emergency Preparedness, call 434-982-0565 or e-mail uvaoep@virginia.edu.