Flood Safety Tips: Keep an Ax in the Attic – ABC17News.com | Hot Mobile Press

By Angela Fritz, senior climate editor at CNN

There is no time more dangerous for thunderstorms than after dark. You can’t see the storm coming. You can’t see the water rising. And when it’s late enough, you won’t be awake to hear the warnings.

That’s exactly what happened early Thursday morning in eastern Kentucky. Torrential rain flooded a river that quickly swelled its banks, inundating surrounding towns, flooding homes to the roof and killing more than a dozen people.

“This is so deadly and it hit so hard and it hit the middle of the night,” Gov. Andy Beshear said of the disaster. Homes were “completely swept away in the middle of the night,” possibly while residents were sleeping.

Forecasters for the National Weather Service issued an emergency flash flood alert around 1 a.m. Thursday — the agency’s worst warning tool for floods. In many homes, at this hour, the only way this alert would have gotten through was via a wireless emergency alert on cell phones. But these can also be switched off by users.

How do you protect yourself and your family from flash floods at night? Here’s a checklist.

Know your risk

The tops of hills don’t have the same risk as flat land near streams, streams, or rivers, so the first thing you should do is find out if your home is in one of these risk zones.

The best way to do this is to look at the flood maps yourself – these show you what will be flooded when the water starts to rise.

Look up your address in FEMA’s flood mapping tool. Are there streaks or swaths of color across your home or neighborhood? If so, then you are at least at some risk. In the event of extreme flooding, there is a high probability that you will be affected.

Riskfactor.com is another tool for assessing your risk and the risk of your community. It adds how scientists expect the risk to change in the coming decades. The climate crisis is increasing precipitation, which means a higher risk of flooding.

Be careful

Flash floods are violent and sudden by nature. You won’t have time to plan once a flash flood hits – so you need to know if the weather could turn bad before it does and take the forecast seriously.

How do you know when all this is happening? Meteorologists are really good at spreading the word.

  • Do you spend a lot of time on Twitter or Facebook? Follow your local National Weather Service office and your favorite TV meteorologist there.
  • Bookmark weather.gov for your local weather forecast.
  • Watch TV. We’re obviously a fan of CNN, but local news is still one of the best ways to get weather alerts. Many stations also have their own weather apps.
  • Sign up for severe weather alerts via a weather app – these include more than just the worst warnings; You can also get personalized forecasts and alerts when meteorologists think conditions may be getting worse.

Understand the warning jargon: A watch issued when bad weather conditions are right, but it hasn’t happened yet; A warning issued when severe weather occurs; A Emergency is issued when things are really, really bad.

Don’t turn off your cell phone notifications

You know them when you hear them: those booming emergency calls coming out of your cell phone. Tornado; flash floods; a missing child – all of which will set off one of those wireless emergency alarms.

So don’t turn them off. You could be the only line of defense between you and deadly weather when you’re sound asleep at 2am

Have a weather radio

You cannot watch TV or surf the Internet if the power goes out. The cellular signal may not be strong enough to receive the WEA alert. So when all else fails, a weather radio will make sure you get the warning.

Many of these radios are equipped with flashlights and hand cranks to keep the battery charged. Some have solar panels.

It doesn’t matter how fancy you want to go. The point is, these devices can be programmed to only wake up when things get bad. It’s a much-needed peace of mind, especially when you’re in a high-risk zone.

Underlined by CNN: The best emergency radios of 2022

To have a plan

You have ways of knowing if the weather might turn bad and you have set up the notifications to notify you when it happens. But none of this matters if you don’t have a plan.

The Red Cross is a great resource. It will help you formulate the best plan and put together an emergency kit or “travel bag” to take with you if you are forced to evacuate. The Red Cross also has a mobile emergency app that sends weather alerts based on zip code, helping you understand potential hazards.

Here is some more advice for a flash flood emergency:

Store an ax in the attic — That sounds wild, but when the water is so high that you have to go to the attic, you need a way out. And that will go right through the roof with an axe.

Invest in life jackets for the family — When the worst happens and you are swept away by flood water, wearing a personal flotation device can mean the difference between life and death.

Never drive through flood water — It is essential that you do not get into your car during floods, especially if you do not know whether your escape route is in a flooded area. Two feet of water can float a car, and 6 inches of running water can knock you off your feet. If you’re still in a car as the flood waters rise around you, get out immediately and head to high ground.

Be prepared to walk to higher ground — Driving through floodwaters is deadly, so the “walking” part is critical. Grab your emergency gear and head to higher ground on foot before the flood waters reach your front door. Plan ahead where that will be.

The CNN Wire
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