After a flood has swept through your community, keep yourself and your family safe by following these important safety tips:
Do not walk through flowing water
Drowning is the number one cause of flood deaths. Most of these drownings occur during flash floods. Six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet. Use a pole or stick to make sure that the ground is still there before you go through an area where the water is not flowing.
Do not drive through a flooded area
More people drown in their cars than anywhere else. Don't drive around road barriers; the road or bridge may be washed out.
Stay away from power lines and electrical wires
Electrocution is also a major killer in floods. Electrical current can travel through water. Report downed power lines to your utility company or local emergency manager.
Turn off your electricity when you return home
Some appliances, such as television sets, can shock you even after they have been unplugged. Don't use appliances or motors that have gotten wet unless they have been taken apart, cleaned and dried.
Watch for animals, especially snakes
Small animals that have been flooded out of their homes may seek shelter in yours. Use a pole or stick to poke and turn items over and scare away small animals.
Look before you step
After a flood, the ground and floors are covered with debris including broken bottles and nails. Floors and stairs that have been covered with mud can be very slippery.
Be alert for gas leaks
Use a flashlight to inspect for damages. Don't smoke or use candles, lanterns or open flames unless you are sure that the gas has been turned off and the area has been aired out.
Carbon monoxide exhaust kills
Use a generator or other gasoline-powered machine outdoors. The same goes for camping stoves. Fumes from charcoal are especially deadly--cook with charcoal only outdoors.
Clean everything that got wet
Floodwaters pick up sewage and chemicals from roads, farms, factories and storage buildings. Spoiled food, flooded cosmetics and medicines are health hazards. When in doubt, throw them out.
Take good care of yourself
Recovering from a flood is a big job. It is tough on both the body and the spirit. A disaster may have long-lasting effects on you and your family. Rest often and take good care of yourself and your family
"Flood Safety Tips" is from: Repairing Your Flooded Home, a joint publication of FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency, an independent federal agency) and the American Red Cross. Copies of this booklet are available at no charge, from FEMA. To request a copy, call FEMA at 1-800-480-2520 (request "FEMA 234--8/1992").