National Flood Safety Awareness Week March 18-22, 2013


Flood Safety and Awareness

If you know what to do before, during, and after a flood you can increase your chances of surviving a flood. The National Weather Service cooperates with other government agencies and private companies to inform you how to become aware of the flood risks in your area and then react properly when a flood threatens you. Knowing your risk in advance is the best way to prepare for flooding of any type in your location. Here are some commonly asked questions.

Is flooding really that big of a deal?

Flooding causes more damage in the United States than any other severe weather related event, an average of $5 billion a year. Flooding can occur in any of the 50 states at any time of the year.

What's the difference between a flash flood and flood?

  • Flash floods occur within six hours of a rain event, or after a dam or levee failure, or following a sudden release of water held by an ice or debris jam. Flash floods can catch people unprepared. You will not always have a warning that these deadly, sudden floods are coming. So, if you live in areas prone to flash floods, plan now to protect your family and property. The use of the word "flash" is synonymous with "urgent."
  • A flood occurs when prolonged rainfall over several days, intense rainfall over a short period of time, or an ice or debris jam causes a river or stream to overflow and flood the surrounding area. Melting snow can combine with rain in the spring and severe thunderstorms can bring heavy rain in the spring and summer.

How can I find out if I am in danger from a flood?

  • NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards is one of the best ways to receive warnings from the National Weather Service. NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards is a nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting continuous weather and river information direct from nearby NWS offices.
  • Our web page provides forecasts and warning and identifies where flooding is occurring.
  • Many mobile devices and smart phones can access the NWS mobile website or a user can sign up for alerts with an external service.

What are the dangers of a flooded basement?

Floodwater and floating objects can lead to very dangerous conditions when basements flood. Not only is furniture ruined, but other factors can make your basement a pool of instant death.

  • Leaking gas bubbles caused by damaged gas lines and malfunctioning gas controls could cause an explosion. The smell of gas may be masked by the floodwater odor. Ensure the gas is shut off, even if you don't smell it. If you do smell gas, get out of the house before you make the call.
  • Water in a flooded basement probably isn't electrified by your home’s electrical lines, but it could be. So instead of finding out the hard way, call the utility company to disconnect your power. After the water is gone, remember anything electrical in the basement may still be wet, damaged and dangerous.
  • The water in a flooded basement could contain chemicals and most likely sewage backup. That is not only disgusting, but also toxic and could make you extremely sick. Make sure you wear rubber boots and gloves to prevent skin contact when cleaning up polluted sludge.

Is there anything I can do to prepare for a flood?

How to reduce potential flood damage and what to include in a family disaster plan can be obtained from the American Red Cross. The NWS works with and relies on strategic partners involved in floodplain management, flood hazard mitigation, flood preparedness, and flood warnings to reduce the loss of life and property due to floods. Key partners include the U.S. Geological Survey, FEMA, the National Hydrologic Warning Council, the Association of State Floodplain Managers, the American Red Cross, the National Safety Council, the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, the media, and many other government and private sector organizations.

Please visit the National Flood Safety Awareness Week Website at:

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