Severe Weather Awareness Week is designed to refresh, remind and educate about seasonal threats from severe weather and how to avoid them. This is also a good time to practice emergency plans and build or refresh emergency preparedness kit.

Wednesday is about Floods and Flash Floods.

Nationally, floods claim nearly 200 lives each year and force 300,000 people from their homes. In Minnesota, floods kill more people than any other weather event; 15 people have died in floods since 1993. About 75 percent of flash-flood deaths occur at night. Half of the victims die in automobiles or other vehicles. Many deaths occur when people drive around road barricades indicating the road is washed out ahead.

Before a flood

Spring and summer rainfalls can be heavy and can produce flash floods in a matter of hours. Here are preparations to take and reduce risks from harm and property destruction.

  1. Assemble an emergency supply kit that includes enough provisions to live on for three days.
  2. Make an emergency plan and share with your family. Learn about the emergency plans in your area.
  3. Get a NOAA Weather Radio.
  4. Elevate appliances if you live in an area that has a high flood risk.
  5. Consider installing "check valves" to prevent flood water from backing up into the drains in your home.
  6. If feasible, construct barriers to stop flood water from entering the building and seal walls in basements with waterproofing compounds.
  7. Get flood insurance. Talk to your insurance provider.

What to do in a flash flood

Flash floods occur within six hours of the beginning of heavy rainfall.

  • Be prepared to evacuate and go to higher ground immediately.
  • Do not attempt to cross a flowing stream on foot. Even water only 6 inches deep, moving at a high rate of speed, can knock you off your feet.
  • Never drive through flooded areas or standing water. Shallow, swiftly flowing water can wash a car from a roadway. Also, the roadbed may not be intact under the water.
  • If the vehicle stalls, abandon immediately and seek higher ground. Rapidly rising water may engulf the vehicle and its occupants.
  • Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.
  • Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams and washes, particularly during threatening conditions.
  • Understand the difference between a Flash Flood Watch and a Flash Flood Warning.