Floods can occur anywhere it rains. Even if your home is located in an area with a low risk of flooding, there is always a chance for a flood in the future. Learn the difference between a Flood Watch and a Flood Warning and what you can do to prepare your family and home.
Flood Watches and Flood Warnings
A Flood Watch means that flooding in the area is possible. A Flood Warning means that a flood is already occurring in the area and safety measures must be taken to prevent injury and property damage. There are also Flash Flood Watches and Flash Flood Warnings, meaning the flooding is sudden and/or violent due to heavy rain or a dam break.
Before a Flood
Whether you live in a flood-prone area or not, take the following steps to protect your property ahead of time.
- Prepare a Survival Kit.
- Seal basement walls with waterproofing compounds.
- Elevate your water heater, electric panel, and furnace.
- Construct barriers to keep floodwaters from coming in to your home.
- Talk to your agent about your insurance policy and find out if you need additional coverage.
During a Flood
If a flood is about to happen and you have time to prepare, take these steps to secure your home.
- Turn off utilities and disconnect electric appliances. However, do not touch electric equipment if you are wet or standing in water.
- Move important items to an upper floor, and move outdoor furniture indoors to a higher level.
- Do not park your vehicle along bodies of water.
If a flood is already happening, safety is your number one priority.
- If advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
- Listen to the radio or television for weather information and alerts.
- Move to higher ground.
- Do not walk through moving water.
- If you are driving and come across a flooded road, Turn Around Don’t Drown®.
- If driving and water begins to rise around your vehicle, abandon it and move to higher ground if you can do so safely. If you vehicle is trapped in moving water, stay in your vehicle. If water is rising inside, seek refuge on the roof.
People often underestimate the power of floodwaters. As little as six inches of moving water can make you fall, and two feet of water can carry away most vehicles, including trucks and SUVs.
For more information about floods, visit Ready.gov.
You should also print a copy of the American Red Cross Flood Safety Checklist as a guide.
After a Flood
Even after a flood is over, there are still hazards. Please keep in mind the following:
- If you are at home, listen to local alerts for information and advice from officials.
- If you were advised to evacuate, do not return to your home until emergency officials say it is safe.
- Stay away from damaged areas unless asked for help by emergency officials.
- Stay out of moving or still water. Not only can you fall, but also floodwaters may be contaminated by gasoline, oil, and raw sewage. Still water may be electrically charged due to fallen or underground power lines.
- Stay out of any building surrounded by floodwaters.
- Do not use generators or gasoline-powered machines inside the home.
Save or print a copy of the American Red Cross Repairing Your Flooded Home to help you throughout the cleanup process.
Disaster relief assistance is available after a community has been devastated by a severe storm. Learn more about disaster relief assistance in our Weather Resources section.