The flooding in China is just the most recent event. Heavy rains are experienced by many around the world. These events range from a real nuisance to outdoor activities to creating very serious life threatening events. The hazards that come with flooding include lightning, reduced visibility when driving, hydroplaning, and the very danger of flash floods. They can occur suddenly, with little or no warning, and can be disastrous. Areas such as creek beds, ravines, gulley, gorges, and culverts can be safe one minute and flooded by a raging current of water the next. Well over one hundred Americans die each year from flash floods and floods while the number is over 50,000 world-wide. Flash flood waters move incredibly fast and with a tremendous amount of force. They can push boulders, tear down trees, and destroy buildings, roads, and bridges. Walls of water can reach 10 to 20 feet high very quickly and without warning.
If you watch news coverage of a flood event, you will see cars and trucks in window high water and wonder how they got there. Water can be deceptive. It may not look deep until you drive into it. One foot of moving water can move a 1,500-pound vehicle, and a few inches of swiftly moving water might wash a vehicle downstream. Another thing you often see is campgrounds being overrun by flood waters many with children. Didn’t they know better? Part of the problem is that it might not be raining where the campers are. Flash flooding can occur from a distant storm and happen so fast the campers may be caught unaware. You will also see homes being washed away. Many times people, especially, in poor countries live in areas that are unsafe. Unfortunately, these areas are often devastated by severe weather with large loss of human life.
To avoid becoming injured or even killed by a flash flood it is essential that you know and follow precautions:
- Keep children from playing around high water or storm drains.
- Never camp on low ground near creeks, streams or rivers, particularly in severe weather.
- Stay out of low areas like canyons, dry washes, and drainage canals in severe weather.
- Be aware of severe weather near you. It doesn’t have to be raining where you are to flood.
- Be familiar with the land features where you live, work, and play.
- Know where high ground is and how to get there quickly.
- Don’t try to drive through water.
- Watch for the following signs:
- Unusually hard rain over several hours.
- Steady substantial rain over several days.
- Rains in conjunction with a spring thaw.
- A monsoon or other tropical system affecting your area.
- Distant thunder, runoff from a faraway thunderstorm may be headed your way.
- A weather report of severe weather or a flash flood watch.
- Water rising rapidly in streams and rivers.