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Preparedness

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Flood Preparedness

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.

Before :

  • 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 signals.
  • Know the terms "Flood Watch", "Flood Warning", and "Urban and Small Stream Warning"
  • 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 place.

During :

  • To ensure safety, leave the area and go to shelter on higher ground.
  • Listen to NOAA Weather Radio, local radio or television stations for information.
  • Be aware of streams, drainage channels and areas known to flood suddenly.
  • If local authorities issue a flood watch, prepare to evacuate.
  • Secure your home. If time permits, secure items located outside the house.
  • 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.

After :

  • 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 volunteers.
  • Continue listening to the radio for event and assistance information.
  • 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 taken.

Links to more information about potential floods and flood preparedness

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