Flood Safety

What Is a Flood?

Devastating floods occur throughout the U.S. every year. Ninety percent of all presidentially declared natural disasters involve flooding.

Flooding is usually divided into two categories: flash flooding and river flooding. Both can cause death, injury and property destruction.

Flash floods are usually caused by slow-moving thunderstorms or thunderstorms that move over the same area one after the other. Flash floods usually occur within six hours of heavy rainfall and are usually more life threatening (according to the National Weather Service).

The majority of deaths from flooding occur when people become trapped in automobiles that stall while driving through flooded areas. Nearly half of all flood fatalities are vehicle-related.

All it takes is a few inches of water to cause major damage to your home and its contents. This Cost of Flooding interactive tool shows you what a flood could cost you, inch by inch.


If flooding occurs, get to higher ground. Stay away from flood-prone areas, including dips, low spots, valleys, ditches, washes, etc. If the waters start to rise in your home, retreat to the second floor, the attic and if necessary, the roof. Take dry clothing, a flashlight and a portable radio with you and wait for help.

Avoid Flooded Areas

Avoid flooded areas or those with rapid water flow. Do not attempt to cross a flowing stream. It takes only six inches of fast flowing water to sweep you off your feet.

Keep Children Safe

Don’t allow children to play near high water, storm drains or ditches. Hidden dangers could lie beneath the water.

Turn Around, Don’t Drown

More deaths occur due to flooding each year than from any other thunderstorm or hurricane related hazard. Many of these deaths are a result of careless or unsuspecting motorists who attempt to drive through flooded roads.

FLASH and the National Weather Service warn anyone who comes to a flooded road to “Turn around … don’t drown!”

Never drive through floodwaters or on flooded roads.

If your vehicle stalls, leave it immediately and seek higher ground.

Water only two feet deep can sweep away most automobiles. For more information about the “Turn Around… Don’t Drown” program visit www.srh.noaa.gov/srh/tadd/.