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MEMA Home > Programs> Communication> News > Flood Awareness: Safety and Preparedness Tips

Flood Awareness: Safety and Preparedness Tips


March 17, 2011


In the United States, flooding is the top storm-related killer, on average, claiming the lives of between 90 and 100 people annually. More than half of those deaths are the result of people attempting to drive through flooded roadways. Victims are usually either trapped in their cars or they drown as they are washed downstream by raging flood waters. In addition, about another quarter of the deaths are caused by people attempting to walk or swim through flood waters or falling into the water. Always keep a safe distance from rapidly moving water and never stand on a bridge to watch the raging waters below.

The vast majority of the deaths are preventable. Here are some flood safety and preparedness tips that could save your life:

  • Never drive a car into a flooded roadway! As little as 2 feet of water will float most cars and can cause them to be washed off the roadway. Water levels are often difficult to judge, particularly and you may not be able to tell if a roadway is already washed away.
  • Always remember: If you come upon a flood area, Turn Around, Don’t Drown! It could save your life.
  • Be especially cautious at night when darkness makes it difficult to see flood dangers. If driving, slow down so you have more time to react to potential hazards.
  • Keep a safe distance from rapidly flowing water. Monitor children and pets closely when flowing water is nearby.
  • During heavy rainfall events or during times of rapid snow melt, camp or park well away from flood-prone areas.
  • Monitor the latest forecast and listen for any alerts for your area to warn you of impending hazardous situations
  • Keep abreast of water levels and forecast water levels. Move to higher ground if flooding is expected.
  • Be alert to any rapid rises or falls in the river levels. A rapid rise in a river level may indicate that an ice jam has formed downstream of you. In contrast, a rapid fall in a river level may indicate that an ice jam has formed upstream from you. If an upstream ice jam breaks up rapidly, flash flooding of downstream areas can occur very quickly.

If you live along a small river or stream:

  • Know your area's flood risk.
  • Keep appraised of current weather conditions for your local area including the latest forecast and any flood watches, warnings, or statements.
  • Monitor river or stream levels and be prepared to seek higher ground, if conditions warrant.
  • Report any flooding to the appropriate authorities.
  • If ordered to evacuate, do so immediately.

The National Weather Service has declared the week of March 14th through 18th Flood Awareness Week in Maine and throughout the United States. For additional information, call your local National Weather Service office, or visit them on the web:





Last update: 07/20/10