Lisa Pfeifer – OSU Ag Safety and Health Education Coordinator
Flood safety and preparation is not something commonly taught in schools or as one progresses through life. Understandably fire, tornado, and emergency action plans top the list for educational focus. Most of us likely remember lessons picked up along the way that smoke detectors require new batteries, food staples around the house are a good idea, having candles or flashlights available can come in handy, even having a supply of bottled water available for emergencies might bubble up on a mental list of how to prepare, but most do not consider floods in the scope of emergency situations for which to prepare. Knowing your risks can help save your life. Is your residence or workplace located in a floodplain? Plug the address in at the FEMA Flood Map Service Center, https://msc.fema.gov/portal, to take a look.
Floods can result from thunderstorms, heavy rains, or thawing snow and at times can build over the course of several days giving a small window for preparation. Flash floods, on the other hand, can occur within minutes without any time to prepare and sometimes without any sign of rain.
It takes only inches of flowing water to sweep you off of your feet. Just two feet of water can move vehicles and a surge of water can destroy buildings. Getting to higher ground if possible should always be a priority in a flooding situation.
Thinking about roadways you travel and where water may collect along the transportation paths you commonly utilize is a good starting point. Stay off of the roads and follow the direction of authorities if they issue closure statements. The National Weather Service reports nearly half of all flood fatalities are vehicle related.
The Ohio Emergency Management Agency lists the following tips if there is potential for flooding:
- Turn Around, Don’t Drown!
- Avoid walking or driving through flood waters.
- Just 6 inches of moving water can knock you down, and 1 foot of water can sweep your vehicle away.
- If there is a chance of flash flooding, move immediately to higher ground. Flash floods are the #1 cause of weather-related deaths in the US.
- If floodwaters rise around your car but the water is not moving, abandon the car and move to higher ground. Do not leave the car and enter moving water.
- Avoid camping or parking along streams, rivers, and creeks during heavy rainfall. These areas can flood quickly and with little warning.
More information from the Ohio Emergency Management Agency can be found at http://www.ema.ohio.gov/. And, additional flooding resources can be found at the National Weather Service, http://www.floodsafety.noaa.gov/ or FEMA, https://www.ready.gov/floods.