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Protecting Yourself > Safety Precautions

During a flood:

  • Do not drive through a flooded area. If you come upon a flooded road, turn around and go another way. More people drown in their cars than anywhere else.
  • Do not walk through flooded areas. As little as six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet.
  • Stay away from downed power fines and electrical wires. Electrocution is another major source of deaths in floods. Electric current passes easily through water.
  • Look out for animals - especially snakes. Animals lose their homes in floods, too. They may seek shelter in yours.

After a Flood:

  • Return home only when authorities indicate it is safe
  • Avoid floodwaters; water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline, or raw sewage. Water may also be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.
  • Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded. Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car.
  • Stay away from downed power lines, and report them to the power company.
  • Stay out of any building if it is surrounded by floodwaters.
  • If your home, apartment or business has suffered damage, call the insurance company or agent who handles your flood insurance policy right away to file a claim.
  • Use extreme caution when entering buildings; there may be hidden damage, particularly in foundations.
  • Upon entering the building, do not use matches, cigarette lighters or any other open flames, since gas may be trapped inside. Instead, use a flashlight to light your way.
  • Keep power off until an electrician has inspected your system for safety.
  • Clean and disinfect everything that got wet. Mud left from floodwater can contain sewage and chemicals. Throw out foods and medicines that may have come into contact with flood water.
  • Until local authorities proclaim your water supply to be safe, boil water for drinking and food preparation vigorously for five minutes before using.
  • Be careful walking around. After a flood, steps and floors are often slippery with mud and covered with debris, including nails and broken glass.
  • Service damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pits, and leaching systems as soon as possible. Damaged sewage systems are serious health hazards.
  • Take steps to reduce your risk of future floods. Make sure to follow local building codes and ordinances when rebuilding, and use flood-resistant materials and techniques to protect yourself and your property from future flood damage.
  • If you must run a generator at your home following a flood, remember to keep the generator outside (not in a garage) to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.