Severe weather awareness week: Flood safety

Roads closed in Gulf County due to flooding. (Oklahoma Department of Transportation)
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Other than heat, flooding is the #1 weather related killer resulting in more deaths than lightning and tornadoes. The reason is people underestimate the force and power of water and drive through flooded roadways. It only takes 6” to knock you off your feet and 12-24” to carry a vehicle. It is NEVER safe to drive or walk in flooded roadways, remember ‘Turn Around Don’t Drown’. If you drive through flooded roadways not only are you putting yourself in potential danger but if you need assistance, you’ll be putting rescuers in danger as well when likely could have been preventable.

So what can you do to stay safe during a flood? The first way to educate yourself on floods is to kn\ow the differences between the flood warnings and advisories:

Flood Watch: A Flood Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for a specific hazardous weather event to occur. A Flood Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for flooding. It does not mean flooding will occur, but it is possible.

Flood Advisory: Issued when a specific weather event that is forecast to occur may become a nuisance. A Flood Advisory is issued when flooding is not expected to be bad enough to issue a warning. However, it may cause significant inconvenience, and if caution is not exercised, it could lead to situations that may threaten life and/or property.

Flood Warning: Issued when the hazardous weather event is imminent or already happening.

Flash Flood Warning: Issued when a flash flood is imminent or occurring. If you are in a flood prone area move immediately to high ground. A flash flood is a sudden violent flood that can take from minutes to hours to develop. It is even possible to experience a flash flood in areas not immediately receiving rain.

During a flood you’ll want to get to the highest level of your home while staying inside. If you’re in an area where officials are requesting an evacuation take their warning seriously and go to an area where flooding is not expected. Just because you may have been through a flood before doesn’t mean this one won’t be the one that will cause damage and devastation.

It may look fun to go outside once it’s done raining and walk around in the water or ride the water in an inflatable tube but the waters can often become contaminated with sewage or chemicals so it’s best to stay inside and take precautions to protect yourself if you do have to go outside.