Here’s what you can do to prepare for flood emergencies:
Know what to expect: Know your area’s flood risk. If unsure, call your local Red Cross chapter, emergency management office, or planning and zoning department. If it has been raining hard for several hours, or steadily raining for several days, be alert to the possibility of a flood. Listen to local radio or TV stations for flood information.
Reduce potential flood damage: Raise your furnace, water heater and electric panel if they are in areas of your home that may be flooded. Consult with a professional for further information on these and other damage reduction measures.
Know the warnings: Floods can take several hours to days to develop. A flood “watch” means a flood is possible in your area. A flood “warning” means flooding is already occurring or will occur soon in your area. Flash floods can take only a few minutes to a few hours to develop. A flash flood watch means flash flooding is possible in your area. A flash flood warning means a flash flood is occurring or will occur very soon.
Prepare a family disaster plan: Check to see if you have insurance that covers flooding. If not, find out how to get flood insurance. Keep insurance policies, documents and other valuables in a safe-deposit box.
Stock up on supplies: Assemble a disaster supply kit containing a first aid kit and essential medications, canned food and can opener, at least three gallons of water per person, protective clothing, rainwear, bedding or sleeping bags, a battery-powered radio, flashlight and extra batteries. Special items for infants, elderly or disabled family members. Have written instructions on how to turn off electricity, gas and water if authorities advise you to do so. Identify where you could go if told to evacuate. Choose several places, such as a friend’s home in another town, a motel or a shelter.
When a flood watch is issued: Move your furniture and valuables to higher floors of your home. Fill your car’s gas tank in case an evacuation notice is issued.
When a flood warning is issued: Listen to local radio and TV stations for information and advice. If told to evacuate, do so as soon as possible.
When a flash flood watch is issued: Be alert to signs of flash flooding and be ready to evacuate on a moment’s notice.
When a flash flood warning is issued: Or if you think it has already started, evacuate immediately. You may have only seconds to escape. Act quickly. Move to higher ground away from rivers, streams, creeks and storm drains. Do not drive around barricades; they are there for your safety. If your car stalls in rapidly rising waters, abandon it immediately and climb to higher ground.
For more information: Call the American Red Cross, Snohomish Chapter at 425-252-4103. You can reach Snohomish County Emergency Management at 425-423-7635, or check for emergency tips through the county Web site at www.snodem.org.