3 things to know that could save your life in a flash flood

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Aerial view of a car submerged under the brown waters of the flood.

Aerial view of a car on a highway submerged under floodwaters from the North Fork of the Kentucky River in Jackson, Kentucky, on July 28, 2022.
Photo: LEANDRO LOZADA / AFP (fake images)

Flash floods are some of the deadliest weather events in the US and are becoming more common due to climate change. Already in 2022, a estimated 67 Americans have perished in flood waters, and about 100 people drown in floods each year in the U.S. While you may not be able to prepare for every emergency, there are some things you can do to reduce your risk of death or death. need rescue in a flood.

When there is heavy rain in a short period of time, flash floods can occur, sometimes in mere minutes. Flooding is nothing new, but the warming climate is causing heavy rains. occur more often and release more water.

1. Never walk or drive through flood waters

Because flash floods develop so quickly, people living near areas recently prone to flash flooding may not take the initial shallow waters seriously. More than half of flood-related deaths occur inside vehicles, said Kate Abshire, leader of the National Weather Service’s national flash flood services. She explained that cars turn into “metal bubbles” during flash floods, and once a vehicle is taken, it’s hard for passengers to get out safely.

“We have the ‘turn around don’t drown‘ catchphrase for a reason. It only takes six inches of moving water to lift someone and 18 inches to float a vehicle,” Abshire said. “It is often very difficult to assess the depth of the water if it is cloudy. Take alternative routes. Don’t drive through the flood waters.”

If you don’t have to go out when it rains a lot, it’s best to stay where you are. If the worst happens and you find yourself in a car in rising water, ABC News has published tips to know the steps to follow, including lowering the windows as soon as possible and getting on the roof of the vehicle.

2. Know your evacuation routes

So, we just told you to stay where you are, but what if you need to evacuate? Knowing alternate routes ahead of time can help you safely get away from a flooded area, especially when a main road is unusable. Find different highways and roads near you and save some of those addresses to your phone. Share the information with friends and family so they know where you’ll be headed, should you end up needing help.

If you’re not sure which routes are likely to be safe, try searching for “[your city name] flood map” which should take you to local tools to see where in your community there is a higher risk of flooding.

3. Know how to receive emergency alerts and weather updates

Yang Hong, a professor of meteorology and climatology at the University of Oklahoma, and his colleagues are working to improve emergency communication with the public during severe weather.

“We are collaborating with the National Weather Service, trying to develop flash flood warning systems,” he said. “We can update our system every five minutes to issue flash flood warnings. There’s still a lot of work to do because… look at Kentucky. It is difficult to predict so much precipitation.”

He suggested following online accounts. like the many city-specific National Weather Service Twitter accounts. To find the account for your area, type in the name of your nearest city and “National Weather Service” using Twitter’s search function. (For example, here are the accounts of Step, BaltimoreY reindeer.) Worried you didn’t find the right account? Official NWS accounts have blue checkmarks next to their identifiers.

Also consider downloading an emergency mobile app and a weather forecast app. FEMA application sends weather alerts for up to five locations per account and has information on local emergency shelters. You can also add a National Weather Service shortcut to your phone’s mobile screen; here are the instructions for both Android and Apple users. Do you need more options? Check out this list of Weather and emergency alerts. of the National Weather Service.

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