Flood Safety Day: How to Stay Safe, Protect Important Documents
The GEMA/HS Ready Georgia campaign offers tips to help prepare for floods on final day of Severe Weather Preparedness Week
(ATLANTA) – Did you know that it takes only 6 inches of moving water to knock an adult off of his or her feet? Just 2 feet of water can sweep away most vehicles. Floods – the second most common of all natural disasters – can be devastating and deadly. Friday, Feb. 6, is Flood Safety Day, and the Georgia Emergency Management Agency/Homeland Security (GEMA/HS) Ready Georgia campaign encourages everyone to understand the dangers of flooding and make sure they are fully prepared.
Throughout Severe Weather Preparedness Week, Georgians have been encouraged to take one or two simple actions each day to get ready. Flood Safety Day is the final day of the week, and GEMA/HS urges residents to copy important documents and seal them in a watertight container.
“One flood can destroy crucial documents like IDs, financial records and health records. Making copies of these documents and putting them in a plastic bag can save you a lot of potential hardship,” said GEMA/HS Director Jim Butterworth. “The other important tip to remember is never to drive into floodwaters. Turn around, don’t drown.”
Throughout the year, many Georgia communities experience some kind of flooding after spring rains or heavy thunderstorms. Floods can rise slowly or quickly, but typically develop over a period of days. Nearly half of all flood-related deaths occur when people drive into floodwaters and their vehicle is swept away. Turning around instead of driving through the flooded area can prevent most of these fatalities. It is difficult to determine how deep the water is or the condition of the road when it is flooded, particularly at night, when vision is limited.
Here are some additional tips on how to prepare for and respond to floods from the GEMA/HS Ready Georgia campaign:
Know What to Expect
- Know your area’s flood risk — if you are unsure, call your local emergency management agency office or planning and zoning department, or visit www.floodsmart.gov.
- If it has rained hard for several hours or rained steadily for several days, prepare for the possibility of flooding.
- Monitor NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for the latest weather forecasts, or download the Ready Georgia mobile app.
Reduce Potential Flood Damage By
- Avoid building or buying a home in a floodplain.
- Raising your furnace, water heater, and electric panel if they are in areas of your home that may be flooded.
- Consulting a professional for further information about damage reduction measures that you can implement.
Prepare a Family Disaster Plan
- Check to see if you need flood insurance. Visit www.floodsmart.gov to learn more about your risk and the National Flood Insurance Program.
- Keep insurance policies, documents, and other valuables in a safe deposit box and keep copies in a waterproof container in your Ready kit.
- Make an evacuation plan. Decide in advance where you will go – you may choose a hotel, or stay with family or friends — and what route you will use to get there. Determine an alternative route in case roads are blocked.
- Your family might not be together when disaster strikes, so plan how you will reconnect. Choose a meeting place outside of your neighborhood in case your family is apart and unable to return home due to flooded roads.
- Determine an out-of-town contact. It may be easier to text or call long distance if local phone lines are overloaded or out of service. Everyone should have emergency contact information in writing or programmed into their cell phones.
- Keep a car, hand-crank or solar charger to charge cell phones when the power goes out.
- If you do not have a cell phone, keep a prepaid phone card.
- Plan ahead for your pets. Shelters cannot accept pets due to health reasons, so it’s important to find a pet-friendly hotel or make arrangements with family or friends in advance.
Evacuation and Driving Tips
- If you think flooding has begun, 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 through or 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 on how to prepare for severe weather, visit www.ready.ga.gov or download Ready Georgia’s free mobile app. To learn about specific risks in your area, contact your local emergency management agency.
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About Ready Georgia
Ready Georgia is a statewide campaign designed to educate and empower Georgians to prepare for and respond to natural disasters, pandemic outbreaks, potential terrorist attacks and other large-scale emergencies. The campaign is a project of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency/Homeland Security and provides a local dimension to Ready America, a broader national campaign. Ready Georgia aims to prepare citizens for maintaining self-sufficiency for at least 72 hours following an emergency, and uses an interactive website, free mobile app, broadcast and print advertising and public awareness media messaging to reach its audiences. Ready Georgia is also on Facebook and YouTube.