Floods can take several hours or days to develop, but flash floods can take only a few minutes. For this reason, it is important to understand both the terminology associated with flood threats, as well as how to react when a weather statement is issued.
A Flood Watch means a flood is possible in the area because conditions are more favorable than usual for the occurrence of flooding. A Flood Warning means a flood is imminent or occurring and immediate action should be taken to protect life and property.
When a Flood Watch is issued:
- Listen to local radio or TV stations for weather information, advisories, and advice.
- Monitor the Leon County Emergency Information webpage for information on current evacuations and the status of local shelters.
- Bring outdoor belongings, such as patio furniture, garbage cans, potted plants, etc., indoors.
- Move furniture and valuables to higher floors or elevate them as best you can. If you can't elevate furniture, place baggies around their legs.
- Fill your car's gas tank in case an evacuation notice is issued or you decide to leave. (Don't expect to be able to purchase gas at the last minute.)
- Fill bathtubs, sinks and jugs with clean water in case water becomes contaminated. Consult your home improvement store about ways to plug the drains of your tubs and sinks so they won't allow water to escape or become contaminated if water backs up in pipes.
- If there is a Flash Flood Watch, be alert to signs of flash flooding and be ready to evacuate on a moment's notice.
When a Flood Warning is issued:
- Continue to monitor local TV and radio stations or the Leon County Emergency Information webpage for storm developments, as well as information on current evacuations and the status of local shelters.
- Be alert to signs of flooding and be ready to evacuate on a moments notice.
- If it looks like evacuation will become necessary collect your emergency kit items.
- If instructed by authorities, turn off all utilities at the main power switch and in the house and close the main gas valve.
- Join with neighbors and volunteers to put sandbags or other protection in place.
- Listen for evacuation instructions. Follow recommended evacuation routes - shortcuts may be blocked. If told to evacuate, do so as soon as possible.
- Move to higher ground away from rivers, streams, creeks, and storm drains.
- Do not drive over flooded roads (you may not be able to see abrupt drop offs in water depths and/or your vehicle could float into trouble). If your car stalls out escape to high ground immediately unless it is too dangerous to do so. As a last resort escape to the top of the vehicle and wait for assistance.
- If you think a Flash Flood has already started, evacuate immediately. You may have only seconds to escape. Act quickly!
Other Safety Tips:
- Do not walk through flowing water. Drowning is the number one cause of flood deaths, mostly during flash floods. Currents can be deceptive: six inches of rapidly moving water can knock you off your feet. If you walk in standing water, use a pole or stick to ensure that firm ground is still there.
- Do not drive through a flooded area. More people drown in their cars than anywhere else. Do not drive around road barriers; the road or bridge may be washed out, or the water may be deep enough to float your vehicle off the road.
- If water rises in your home before you evacuate, go to the top floor, attic, or roof.
- Do not enter buildings surrounded by flood water.
- Stay away from power lines and electrical wires. The number two flood killer, after drowning, is electrocution. Electrical current can travel through water. Report downed power lines to your utility provider. If the line is down across a road or in any other location that poses an immediate hazard, call 911.
- Look out for snakes and other animals that may seek shelter in your home.
- Avoid contact with flood water if at all possible! If you've come in contact with floodwaters, wash your hands with soap and disinfected water.