Flood Preparedness Fact Sheet, from
Washington Military Department, Division of Emergency Management
Floods -- Before, During, and After
A "flood potential outlook" is issued when forecast
meteorological conditions indicate significantly heavy precipitation
may occur. The "flood potential outlook" is generally issued 36 hours
or more before the potential event.
A "flood watch" is issued when meteorological conditions raise
the threat of flooding, but occurrence is neither certain or
imminent. A "flood watch" is generally issued 12 to 36 hours before
the potential event.
A "flood warning" is issued when flooding is expected within 12
hours or is in progress.
Take action to protect lives and property immediately. The following
are recommendations for before, during, and after a flood.
Find out if you live in a flood-prone area and identify earthen,
irrigation, hydro-electric, etc. dams, that are up stream from your
area, and could be the source of potential problems.
Ask your local emergency manager about official flood warning
Know the terms "Flood Watch", "Flood Warning", and "Urban and Small
Plan for evacuation.
Consider purchasing flood insurance.
Take steps to flood proof your home. Call your local building
department or emergency management office for information.
Keep all insurance policies and your household inventory in a safe
To ensure safety, leave the area and go to shelter on higher
Listen to NOAA Weather Radio, local radio or television stations
Be aware of streams, drainage channels and areas known to flood
If local authorities issue a flood watch, prepare to evacuate.
Secure your home. If time permits, secure items located outside the
If instructed, turn off utilities at the main switches or valves.
Fill your car with fuel.
Fill the bathtub with water in case water becomes contaminated or
services are cut off. Sterilize the bathtub first.
Stay away from flood waters.
When deep flooding is likely, permit the flood waters to flow
freely into your basement to avoid structural damage to the
foundation and the house.
Do NOT attempt to drive over flooded roads. The depth of water is
not always obvious. The road bed may be washed out under the water,
and you could be stranded or trapped.
Stay away from flood waters.
Stay away from moving water. Moving water six inches deep can sweep
you off your feet.
Be aware of areas where flood waters have receded and may have
weakened road surfaces.
Stay away from and report downed power lines.
Stay away from disaster areas unless authorities ask for
Continue listening to the radio for event and assistance
Consider health and safety needs. Wash your hands frequently with
soap and clean water if you come in contact with flood waters.
Throw away food that has come in contact with flood waters.
Call your insurance agent.
Take photos of or videotape your belongings and your home.
Don't throw away damaged goods until an official inventory has been
Links to more
information about potential floods and flood preparedness
Back to Top