Preparing for flood safety

Monday, March 15, 2010

The forecast for probable spring flooding in the Midwest is likely accurate given all the snow we've received this brutal winter, and floodwaters are nothing to ignore or take lightly.

Residents are asked to follow these safety tips if flooding occurs:

*DO NOT WALK THROUGH FLOWING WATER---Drowning is the number one cause of flood deaths. Most of these drownings occur during flash floods. Six inches of swiftly moving water can knock you off your feet. And use a pole or stick to make sure that the ground is still there while walking through a flooded area, even where the water is not flowing.

*DO NOT DRIVE THROUGH A FLOODED AREA---More people drown in their cars than anywhere else. Don't drive around road barriers. They are there for a reason. The road or bridge may be washed out.

*STAY AWAY FROM POWER LINES AND ELECTRICAL WIRES---Electrocution is also a major killer in floods. Electrical current can travel through water. Report downed power lines to your utility company or local emergency manager.

*TURN OFF YOUR ELECTRICITY WHEN YOU RETURN HOME---Some appliances, such as television sets, can shock you even after they have been unplugged. Don't use appliances or motors that have gotten wet until they have been taken apart, cleaned, and dried.

*WATCH FOR ANIMALS---Small wild animals that have been flooded out of their homes may seek shelter in yours. Use a pole or stick to poke and turn items over and scare away small creatures.

*LOOK BEFORE YOU STEP---After a flood, the ground and floors are covered with debris, including broken bottles and nails. And floors and stairs that have been covered with mud can be very slippery.

*BE ALERT FOR GAS LEAKS---Use a flashlight to inspect for damage. Don't smoke or use candles, lanterns, or open flames unless you are sure that the gas has been turned off and the area has been aired out.

*CARBON MONOXIDE EXHAUST KILLS---Use generators or other gasoline-powered machines outdoors only. The same goes for camping stoves. Fumes from charcoal are especially deadly; cook with charcoal outdoors only also.

*CLEAN EVERYTHING THAT GOT WET---Floodwaters have picked up sewage and chemicals from roads, farms, factories, and storage buildings. Spoiled food and flooded cosmetics and medicines are health hazards. When in doubt, throw them out.

*BE PREPARED FOR A ROUGH TIME---Recovering from a flood is a big job. It is rough on both the body and the spirit. And the after affects of a disaster on you and your family may last a long time. Consult a health professional on how to recognize and care for anxiety, stress and fatigue.