Guide: Flooding safety tips to follow

With the threat of flooding during severe weather, everyone should follow these flooding safety tips.

Sandrina Rodrigues

Mar 6, 2024, 8:30 AM

Updated 140 days ago


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that over half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous floodwater.
The next highest percentage of flood-related deaths is due to walking into or near floodwaters. It is never safe to drive or walk into floodwaters.
With the threat of flooding during severe weather, everyone should follow these flooding safety tips:

1. Stay away

Stay away from floodwaters. If you are walking and encounter flooding, stop, turn around and go another way. Keep children out of the water. Floodwater can pose a drowning risk for everyone, regardless of their ability to swim.

2. Don’t drive in flooded areas

Cars or other vehicles won’t protect you from floodwaters. They can be swept away or may stall in moving water. If you are driving, turn around and go another way.

3. Be cautious at night

Be especially cautious at night when it is darker and harder to see flood dangers.

4. Dangers in the water

Floodwaters contain many things that may harm health. We don’t know exactly what is in floodwater at any given point in time. The CDC says floodwater can contain: Downed power lines; human and livestock waste; household, medical, and industrial hazardous waste; objects such as lumber, vehicles, and debris; and wild or stray animals such as rodents and snakes.
The tri-state has always been familiar with natural disasters, including flooding from storms. However, not all flooding is the same. News 12 Storm Watch Team Meteorologist Julian Seawright breaks down the differences between flash floods and areal floods in the video below:

5. Exposure to floodwaters

Exposure to contaminated floodwater can cause - wound infections, skin rash, gastrointestinal illness, tetanus, and, although uncommon, leptospirosis.

6. How to protect yourself

It is important to protect yourself from exposure to floodwater regardless of the source of contamination. The best way to protect yourself is to stay out of the water. If you must enter floodwater, wear rubber boots, rubber gloves and goggles. If you come in contact with floodwater:
Wash the area with soap and clean water as soon as possible. If you don’t have soap or water, use alcohol-based wipes or sanitizer.
Take care of wounds and seek medical attention if necessary. Wash clothes contaminated with flood or sewage water in hot water and detergent before reusing them.
More tips from the CDC

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