Friday, July 1, 2016

5 Quick Tips to Prevent Dying in a Flash Flood

It is flash flood season in the desert southwest and, unfortunately, we just had our first death due to the floods yesterday.  This doesn't have to happen.  With a few tips, you can avoid dying in a flash flood:

  1. Watch the weather both on TV (the TV news will tell you about impending rain storms and possible flash flooding) as well as in the sky (you will see dark rain clouds moving towards you).  Note that when you see dark rain clouds off in the distance, a flash flood in your area may be imminent as the rain dropping miles away can quickly create fast moving streams of water heading your directions which brings us to...
  2. When flash flooding is in progress get to higher ground.  The fast-moving streams of water, which are created because the ground is so hard that the water moves on top of the ground to the lowest place it can find, can sweep you off your feet even if there are only a few inches of water.  Less than a foot of fast moving flood waters can carry off an SUV.  There were a number of people who had to be rescued yesterday because they were walking in the run-off washes (drainage canals) and couldn't get through the water to higher ground.  Never hang out in these low lying areas when it is raining and obviously, never get stuck in canyons when it is raining or forecast to be raining.
  3. For the same reason, never try to drive through flooded roads.  Besides the danger of fast moving water washing away your vehicle, you could also drive into what looks like the road but the road could actually be washed out or, the couple inches of water can grow to a foot of water faster than you can drive down the street.
  4. If your home is in a flood zone and news reports say floods are heading your way, try to proactively get to higher ground.  This may mean leaving your home and heading up the nearest hill or mountain.  If you can't leave your home try to get to an upper floor or your roof.  If you can't leave your car try to get on the car's roof.  The point is to NOT end up in a flooded area because someone will have to risk life and limb (if they can find you) to save your life.
  5. Don't think that you will just "go with the flow" of the water, either by trying to swim or boat in it.  The water moves so fast and grows so deep that even if you can manage to not knock your head on something, you will probably drown because you will end up pinned under debris.
With a bit of forewarning and some common sense, people can avoid flash floods all together.

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