National Flood Safety Awareness Week, March 14-18, is an excellent opportunity for all Americans to become more educated about the dangers that flooding can cause and what steps to take to be prepared for the risk of flooding.
The current flooding occurring in parts of the Midwest, Southern and Northeastern parts of the nation are a very real reminder that floods can happen anywhere and at anytime in the United States. Flooding, the nation's most common natural disaster can and does happen in every U.S. state and territory.
All floods are not alike, though. Some develop slowly during an extended period of rain, or during a warming trend after a heavy snow. Others, such as flash floods, can occur very rapidly, without warning or even any visible signs of rain. That’s why it’s critical to be prepared for flooding no matter where you live.
Here are some actions that you and your family can take today to become better prepared:
- Get an emergency supply kit - This includes items like non-perishable food, water, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra flashlights and batteries. You may want to prepare a portable kit and keep it in your car, which would include copies of prescription medications and medical supplies and copies of important documents like a driver's license, Social Security card, etc.
- Create a family emergency plan - Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so you should know how to contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency. Plan places where your family will meet, notify caregivers and make plans for your pets.
- Purchase flood insurance – A flood insurance policy can protect your home, property, or business from the financial damages of flooding. Most homeowner’s insurance does not cover damage from flooding, so visit FloodSmart.gov to learn more. Flood insurance policies normally have a 30-day waiting period before they go into effect, so make sure you’re protected before flooding occurs.
- Be informed about your flood risk – As snow melts and spring rains fall, the National Weather Service uses several terms to help you identify the stages of flood hazard:
- Flood Watch: Flooding is possible. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information
- Flash Flood Watch: Flash flooding is possible. Be prepared to move to higher ground; listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
- Flood Warning: Flooding is occurring or will occur soon; if advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
- Flash Flood Warning: A flash flood is occurring; seek higher ground on foot immediately.