Flood Safety: How to Prepare and Protect Yourself from Floods


Fairfax County Office of Public Affairs
12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 551
Fairfax, VA 22035-0065
703-324-3187, TTY 703-324-2935, FAX 703-324-2010

July 7, 2005

 

Flood Safety: How to Prepare and Protect Yourself from Floods

The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch in effect through Friday afternoon, July 8, throughout most of the Washington D.C. metropolitan area, including Fairfax County. Thunderstorms are expected to develop by early evening and persist overnight; in addition remnants of Tropical Storm Cindy will affect the region through Friday morning, bringing more widespread and heavy rain to the area. Next week, Hurricane Dennis is expected to touch ground in the United States and bring more rain.

County residents should be prepared for possible flooding over the next few days if heavy rain arrives and area creeks and small streams rise significantly. According to the National Weather Service, floods cause more damage ($4.1 billion) and loss of life (127 people on average) annually nationwide than any other natural disaster. If you live in a flood-prone area, it’s important to protect yourself and your family from the consequences of flooding.

A flood watch means that flooding is possible but not imminent. A flood warning means that flooding is already occurring or will soon occur.

Fairfax County officials remind residents that this is a good time to review your family disaster plan and be prepared to implement it. The following advice may help protect lives and reduce damage before, during and after severe storms and flooding.

BEFORE THE STORM

  • Monitor your local news and NOAA Weather Radio, or visit the National Weather Service’s Web site at www.nws.noaa.gov for the latest weather information. Battery powered weather radios are available at most stores that sell electronic equipment.
  • Sign up for the Community Emergency Alert Network to receive emergency alerts, notifications and updates to your cell phone, pager, PDA and/or e-mail account. Visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/cean.
  • Move to higher ground, away from creeks, streams, rivers and storm drains. Flash floods can sweep over an area without warning, and you may only have minutes to get to safety.
  • Listen for distant thunder because water from faraway storms may be headed your way. Be aware that flash flooding can occur up to 12 hours after heavy rains.
  • Learn the safest route from your home or place of business to a safe area away from the high winds or flooding. Keep your vehicle fueled and have an updated local map in your car.
  • Move livestock and animals to higher ground; bring pets inside.
  • Store extra drinking water. Fill up clean plastic bottles with clean water if you live in a flood-prone area.
  • Move your valuables and furniture to higher floors of your home.
  • Check your gutters to make sure they are clear of leaves and debris.
  • Check your family emergency kit to be sure it is stocked with essential supplies to last a minimum of three days. Include items like flashlights and batteries, battery-operated radio, weather radio, water, canned food and manual can opener, first aid supplies and medications. Make an emergency kit with supplies for your pet, as well.
  • Review your family emergency and communications plan. Decide on a meeting place away from home where you and your family will gather if you need to leave your home and family members become separated.

DURING THE STORM

  • Know how to get emergency information for your area. Fairfax County government provides emergency information on its Web site at www.fairfaxcounty.gov, on Government Cable Channel 16 and via the county Emergency Information Line at 703-817-7771, TTY 711.
  • Keep your battery-operated radio tuned to a local station, and follow all instructions. If you are told to evacuate, move out of the house or building to safe, high ground before access is cut off by floodwater.
  • Never walk or swim through swiftly moving water. Avoid already-flooded areas. Floodwaters that are above your knees are dangerous. Turn around and go back to higher ground.
  • Never try to cross standing or moving water in a vehicle. Water that is two feet deep can carry away most cars, including SUVs. If you find floodwaters on the road, turn around and find an alternate route.
  • Abandon your vehicle immediately if it becomes surrounded with water or the engine stalls. Seek higher ground immediately.

AFTER THE STORM

  • When it is safe to return to your home, be sure that the structure is not visibly damaged and in danger of collapsing before entering.
  • Do not use electrical appliances that have been wet. Do not turn on damaged electrical appliances because of the hazards of electric shock or fire.
  • Watch for live electrical wires. Be sure the electrical current is turned off and do not attempt to turn on any electrically-operated light or appliance until an electrician has checked your system.
    For more information on flood preparedness, visit the Fairfax County Web site at www.fairfaxcounty.gov or call the Fairfax County Emergency Information Line at 703-817-7771, TTY 711. Visit the National Weather Service’s Web site at www.nws.noaa.gov for the latest weather information.
FAIRFAX COUNTY IS COMMITTED TO A POLICY OF NONDISCRIMINATION IN ALL COUNTY PROGRAMS, SERVICES AND ACTIVITIES AND WILL PROVIDE REASONABLE ACCOMMODATIONS UPON REQUEST. TO REQUEST SPECIAL ACCOMMODATIONS, CALL 703-324-3187, TTY 703-324-2935. PLEASE ALLOW FIVE WORKING DAYS IN ADVANCE OF EVENTS IN ORDER TO MAKE THE NECESSARY ARRANGEMENTS

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