Flood Safety Tips

Being caught in a flood is a very real risk as a resident of Tampa. The most effective way to keep yourself and your loved ones safe in the event of a flood is to prepare ahead of time. The following information can improve your chances of safely evacuating a flooded area with as little damage and injury as possible.

Prepare in Advance

Preparation is key when it comes to staying safe in a flood. You do not want to wait until the chaos and confusion of an active flood zone to build an emergency kit or save your belongings. Sometimes, floods come without warning, giving you no time to prepare. If you live in a flood zone in Hillsborough County, stay ready for potential flooding and a quick evacuation at all times.

Pack a go-bag with all of the essentials that you might need when evacuating a flood. This includes bottled water, nonperishable food items, copies of your important documents and an emergency kit. Use this disaster supply kit checklist from the Florida Division of Emergency Management to make sure you have everything you need. Create a family emergency plan, as well, with the nearest shelter location and other critical information.

Stay Alert

If your area is experiencing potential flood conditions, stay alert and ready to leave at any given moment. Listen to the radio or watch the news for updates. If you’ve been told to shelter in place, continue keeping up with the latest information in case the order is upgraded to a mandatory evacuation. To avoid missing important announcements, sign up for emergency alerts in Hillsborough County through the official HCFL Alert system.

Evacuate Immediately

Never delay in leaving your residence if you are given an order to evacuate. Do not wait to see if flooding will actually occur and do not waste time trying to save your belongings. Grab your go-bag and emergency kit, get into your vehicle, and head to your assigned emergency shelter location. These shelters are opened on an as-needed basis throughout Tampa. Some are pet-friendly and cater to special-needs individuals, while others do not, so find the shelter that is right for you.

Turn Around, Don’t Drown

When driving in flood conditions, keep the phrase, “Turn around, don’t drown,” in mind. It is not safe to drive in certain flood conditions. Driving through floodwaters can overpower your vehicle and cause it to be swept downstream. Even if you think the water is shallow enough for your vehicle to drive through, it is safer to turn around.

Obey all roadblocks and barriers during a flood – do not try to drive around them. According to the National Weather Service, it only takes about one foot of rushing water to carry away a passenger car and two feet for an SUV or truck. If you have to evacuate on foot, be even more cautious and try to avoid walking directly into floodwaters. Just six inches of fast-moving floodwater is enough to knock down an adult.

Wear Protective Gear

Part of your flood prep should be putting on clothing and protective gear that can prevent you from injuries and illnesses. This includes tall rubber boots, rubber gloves, safety glasses and a face mask. Wearing the right clothing can minimize your exposure to floodwaters that often contain dangerous contaminants, such as chemicals and sewage. Rubber-soled boots may also protect you against electrocution if you are walking through floodwater that has been energized by a downed power line.

Throw Away Contaminated Items

After a flood, only return to your home when authorities have deemed it safe. Then, begin safe clean-up. Discard or thoroughly clean any items that have come into contact with floodwaters, as they may be tainted by dangerous bacteria or chemicals. Wear a mask and other protective gear to stay safe from contaminants. Do not wear any clothing that you were wearing during the flood until it has been properly cleaned and disinfected. Then, when you’re ready to initiate a flood damage insurance claim and rebuild your life after a flood, consult with a lawyer in Tampa for assistance.