What You Need to Know About Flood Water to Protect Yourself and Your Family

News, Your Health | 10 months ago

What You Need to Know About Flood Water to Protect Yourself and Your Family

As Hurricane Irma gathers strength in the Caribbean Sea, with landfall likely in Florida and impacting the Carolinas, emergency management groups along with Carolinas HealthCare System are tracking its course. A storm of this magnitude is likely to cause flooding and leave debris in its wake. Flood water can pose harm beyond damage to your home and property. For this reason, Carolinas HealthCare System recommends caution and taking these steps when approaching any flood waters.

Tips to Protect Yourself


  • Turn Around, Don’t Drown!
  • Avoid walking through flood waters. If you must travel through flood water, ensure you’re wearing proper footwear. This will protect your feet from cuts or scrapes, which could become infected from bacteria in flood water.
  • Don’t use flood water for drinking. Flood water can contain a variety of contaminants and debris, including bacteria like E. coli. It is not safe to drink and ingesting the flood water could lead to illness. Only drink from bottled water or uncontaminated public water. Check with your local utilities company if you are concerned about your public water source.
  • Do not drive over bridges that span fast-moving floodwaters. Floodwaters can scour foundation material from around the structure's foundation and make the bridge unstable.
  • Just 6 inches of moving water can knock you down, and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away. Don’t take chances travelling through standing water.
  • If there is a chance of flash flooding, move immediately to higher ground.
  • If floodwaters rise around your car but the water is not moving, abandon the car and move to higher ground. Do not leave the car and enter moving water.
  • If you live near streams, rivers, and creeks, these areas can flood quickly and with little warning. Follow emergency warnings and move quickly to higher ground if you notice water levels rising from heavy rainfall.

Know Your Emergency Warnings and Have a Plan

Flood Watch = “Be Aware.” Conditions are right for flooding to occur in your area.

  • Turn on your TV/radio. You will receive the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.
  • Know where to go. You may need to reach higher ground quickly and on foot.
  • Build or restock your emergency preparedness kit. Include a flashlight, batteries, cash and first aid supplies.
  • Bring in outdoor furniture and move important indoor items to the highest possible floor. This will help protect them from flood damage.
  • Disconnect electrical appliances and do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water. You could be electrocuted.
  • If instructed, turn off your gas and electricity at the main switch or valve. This helps prevent fires and explosions.

Flood Warning = "Take Action!"  Flooding is either happening or will happen shortly.

  • Move immediately to higher ground or stay on high ground.
  • Evacuate if directed.
  • Avoid walking or driving through flood waters.

Sources: National Weather Service, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Ready.Gov