Before the next floods descend, familiarize yourself with a Flood Zone Map and advice on what to do if you’re at home or must evacuate.
1. Keep a battery, or handcrank, or solar-powered radio tuned to a local station, and follow emergency instructions.
2. The safety of your family is the most important consideration. Since flood waters can rise very rapidly, you should be prepared to evacuate before the waters reach your property.
3. If you have a flood-related emergency and need assistance, call 911.
4. If you’re caught in the house by suddenly rising waters, move to the second floor and, if necessary, to the roof. Take warm clothing, a flashlight and a portable radio with you, and wait for help. Don’t try to swim to safety. Rescue teams will be looking for you.
5. If, and only if, time permits, there are a number of precautionary steps that can be taken:
» Turn off all utilities at the main power switch and close the main gas valve. Disconnect electrical appliances. Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.
» Board up windows or protect them with storm shutters (to prevent flying glass).
» Bring outdoor possessions inside the house or tie them down securely. This includes lawn furniture, garbage cans, tools, signs and other moveable objects that might be swept away or hurled about.
» Secure your home.
6. Finally, if you must evacuate your home, the rule is simple: Head for higher ground and stay away from flood waters. If you’re evacuating by car, make sure you stock your car with an evacuation kit; avoid parking along streams or ditches, because both areas can turn deadly during times of heavy rainfall; and keep your gas tank at least half full, since gasoline pumps will not be working if the electricity has been cut off.
Safety tips for navigating your car in flood conditions
The best piece of advice is not to drive in flood conditions at all. But …
1. Let’s say you are already out, driving, and there’s a flash flood. What to do? If you can see water washing over the roadway, turn around. If you drive farther, you might discover that the road has been washed away or that the water is getting deeper.
2. If your vehicle stalls, abandon it as soon as possible. Your life is more important than your car or van. People have been swept away while trying to fix or extricate themselves from their stalled automobile.
3. By the Numbers:
» Six inches of water is enough water to reach the bottom of passenger vehicles. This means the vehicle may stall or your tires will lose traction and you will lose control of your vehicle.
» Twelve inches of water, or one foot of water, is enough to set afloat many vehicles.
» Two feet of gushing, rushing water has enough power to carry away sports utility vehicles and pickups. At night you need to be extra careful because any flood dangers are difficult to recognize in the darkness.
Source: HECO’s "Information Handbook for Emergency Preparedness." Visit www.heco.com for more information.