Severe Weather and Flood Safety Week: Home safety during a flood
If you live in a flood-prone area, you should be prepared to act during a Flood Watch.
Friday is the sixth day of South Carolina’s Severe Weather and Flood Safety Week. Stay up to date on weather conditions by following the South Carolina Emergency Management Division, the National Weather Service, SCETV and South Carolina Public Radio.
Flooding is a common weather hazard in South Carolina. Preparing before floods occur and knowing what to do once flood waters reach your area is critical for your safety.
Frank Strait, Severe Weather Liaison at the South Carolina State Climatology Office, said to make sure you know if your property has flooded in the past. If you live in a flood-prone area, you should be prepared to act during a Flood Watch.
Knowing if you live in a flood plain or near a body of water is also important since flooding can occur in several forms. Flash flooding typically happens very quickly, within six hours of heavy rainfall or severe thunderstorms. Mountainous or hilly terrain allows water to travel downhill at even greater speeds into rivers and over land, expediting the flood. River flooding can occur after storms, excessive rainfall, rapid snow melts or dam failures. River floods are categorized into minor, moderate and major stages. Major stage flooding may isolate towns, close traffic routes or cause home evacuations. Finally, storm surge or coastal inundation may happen during or after a tropical system. South Carolina’s Lowcountry is especially susceptible to this form of flooding.
“If you know that your home is at risk for flooding,” Strait said, “have those critical documents printed out, kept safe and ready to go.”
Strait said you may also choose to move important items to the higher floor of your home if you have multiple levels. Make sure you have a way for your family and pets to leave the house safely should you get a Flood Warning.
Once that Warning is issued, it’s time to evacuate. The South Carolina Emergency Management Division advises to move to higher ground immediately. Do not wait to be told to evacuate. Strait said to turn off electricity and gas before you leave.
It’s very important that once you leave to do your best not to drive or walk through flood waters. Six inches of moving water can knock a grown adult over. Twelve inches of water can carry away compact cars and two feet can carry away SUVs and trucks. Driving through flood waters may cause you to have to abandon your vehicle or worse, be trapped in it. Walking through floodwaters may also expose you to gasoline, chemicals, sewage and displaced wildlife.
Tomorrow, on the final day of Severe Weather and Flood Safety Week, we’ll discuss severe weather and flood recovery.