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    It Can Happen in a Flash: How to Stay Safe in a Flood

    By By Diane Griffith, Staff Writer, myOptumHealth
    October 30, 2012, 6:04:34 AM EDT

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    A heavy rainfall may not seem like a weather emergency, but it could easily turn into one. Flooding can occur anytime, anywhere. In fact, some regions that don't have a cloud in the sky can experience flash flooding from a storm miles away.

    Types of floods Some floods occur when a river, stream or other body of water overflows. This may happen when there's a steady rain for several days, or if there's a quick, torrential downpour. Flooding can also result from a broken dam.

    Flash floods happen suddenly. Because they can occur without warning, they can be especially dangerous. Flash flood waters are extremely forceful and often sweep away everything in their path. Their force can be even stronger if they happen at the same time as tropical storms or hurricane-force winds. If you reside in a low-lying area near any body of water, your flood risks are especially high.


    Flood terms If you hear that there's a flood watch, it is possible that flooding could develop in your area. A flood warning means there is - or is about to be - a flood.

    A flash flood watch means such flooding is possible and that you may need to evacuate. A flash flood warning means there is a flash flood and that you should move to higher ground right away.

    If there is a flood watch in your area, stay tuned to the news and be prepared to evacuate if necessary.

    Be prepared

    Have a supply kit ready for any weather emergency. It should include:

    -A three-day supply of food and water. Stock at least one gallon of water per person, per day.
    -A flashlight.
    -A portable radio.
    -A first aid kit.
    -Medications and medical supplies.
    -Copies of important documents.
    -Baby and pet supplies.
    -Rain gear.

    If you're driving

    If you're in a car and suddenly find flooding in your path, turn around and go another way. If your car is suddenly caught on a flooded road, get out of the car right away and move quickly to higher ground. Keep in mind that:

    -Just six inches of water can make you lose control of your car. It can also cause stalling.
    -Your car can float in just one foot of water.
    -Two feet of flash flood waters can sweep your car away.

    Flood and Flash Flood Warnings: As the name suggests, flash flooding occurs in a relatively short amount of time. Specifically, the National Weather Service (NWS) defines a flash flood as significant flooding that occurs within six hours of the causative event. The NWS then will issue a flash flood warning if flash flooding is imminent or already in progress.
    The main difference between the flash flood warning and just a plain flood warning is the timing, along with the scale on which the event is occuring. A flood warning focuses more on a particular river, or river basin. The rivers across the United States are constantly being monitored by river gauges. These gauges keep track of a number of statistics at given points along a river, including the river’s stage, or height.

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