Putting your Evacuation Plan in Place
When flood conditions are present, you’ll want to rely on your evacuation plan to get you to a point of safety. While monitoring weather conditions, determine what triggering event will cause you to implement your plan. Will it be the issuing of a flood warning, or will you leave whenever a watch is announced? Your proximity to flood waters and accessibility to evacuation routes will largely determine what your triggering event will be. When in doubt, remember that it is always better to evacuate sooner rather than later, as taking action early on gives you the best odds of survival.
Evacuating by Automobile
When evacuating by automobile, use designated routes whenever possible. Monitor the situation carefully via radio so you will know about road closings as soon as they are announced. Being able to modify your route at a moment’s notice could save you valuable time, reducing the odds you will become stranded against rising flood waters.
Never drive your automobile into standing water. If you become surrounded due to flash flooding, roll down your window before the water level reaches mid-door. Once it gets that high, opening your door may be extremely difficult. Exit your vehicle and position your feet so that they point downstream. This makes it less likely you will be injured by floating debris. Swim to higher ground immediately, or grab onto floating objects and hang on if there is no safe place to retreat to.
Evacuating by Foot
If you must evacuate by foot, it is essential for you to move as expeditiously as possible. For this reason, you should not try to carry excess gear with you. All you need to have is a flashlight and your cell phone. If time permits, you may throw on a wet weather parka and rain boots before leaving as well.
Move immediately to an area of higher elevation. Avoid slippery rocks or exposed cliffs, as these may give way underneath your feet and cause you to fall. Stay on solid ground as much as possible, and away from downed power lines or trees. Remain in your location until you are sure it is safe to return home. While you are waiting, keep an eye on rising waters so that you can move again if your current location becomes unsafe.
Caught by Rising Water
If you are unable to move away from your immediate area, head to the top floor of your building or your roof. In the event you live in a single-story home, you may need to climb onto a neighbor’s roof or into a tree to escape. Remain there until flood waters recede or you are rescued, whichever comes first. Keep in mind that this could take several hours or even days. In the interim, you can use your flashlight or a signal mirror to alert rescuers as to your whereabouts.
Swimming away is not recommended. You could easily become overtaken by rushing flood waters, even if you are a very strong swimmer. On the other hand, it may be worthwhile to utilize a raft or lifeboat if it seems you may be waiting some time for rescue crews to arrive.
Flooding is something no one wants to think about, yet is a very real possibility for most people. Since flooding can happen any time of year, it is important to be prepared for it at all times, including having an evacuation plan in place.