Flash floods are one of the most common sources of weather-related deaths. As stated in our opening page, flooding is the #1 cause of death from extreme weather, claiming an average of around 100 to 150 lives each year. Sixty percent of all flood-related fatalities occur in a car, mostly when people try to cross flooded roadways. Here are some important things to know about flood safety:
Information about flood dangers
- It only takes 6 inches of fast moving water to knock people off their feet.
- Two feet of water can float a several-thousand pound car, and as little as 18 inches will set most afloat. Once floating, cars are often carried into deeper water or overturned.
- Flooding can force poisonous snakes that are typically on the ground or buried below it to the surface, so beware if you’re out in (or on) floodwaters.
- Downed power lines are commonly a part of flash floods, and can be capable of electrocution.
Flood Safety Tips
- Never attempt to drive through standing water over a road. Find another route around it or some other place to stay.
- Floodwaters at night can be difficult to see, so if it’s been raining heavily, slow down before approaching bridges and other places where the road nears a waterway.
- Don’t let children play in floodwaters. Not only can currents be stronger than they might appear, but floods can create hidden hazards. Water is in places it shouldn’t be, covering things like drainage pipes, wires or protruding metal, and other underwater hazards that can trap or injure a child.
- Be cautious yourself. As one search and rescue officer states, “In these circumstances your swimming ability has little to do with your survival.” (NBC Nightly News Phoenix, 7-20-2010) Stay away, and don’t do anything stupid.