Flash Flood Safety

On average, more people are killed by flooding than by any other single severe weather hazard, including tornadoes, lightning and hurricanes. Most of these deaths occur at night, when it is more difficult to recognize flood dangers, and when people are trapped in vehicles. Do you and your family know what to do in case of a flood?


  • DO NOT drive onto a flooded roadway.
  • DO NOT drive through flowing water.
  • If you approach a roadway that is flooded, TURN AROUND - DON'T DROWN.
  • Drive with extreme caution if roads are even just wet or it is raining. You can lose control of your vehicle if hydroplaning occurs, which is when a layer of water builds up between your tires and the road, causing there to be no direct contact between your vehicle and the road.
If a Flash Flood Warning is issued for your area...

  • If advised to evacuate, do so immediately! Act quickly to save yourself, you may not have much time.
  • Get out of areas that are subject to flooding and move to a safe area before access is cut off by flood waters. Low spots such as dips, canyons, and washes are not the places you want to be during flooding!
  • DO NOT camp or park your vehicle along streams and washes, particularly during threatening conditions.
  • DO NOT drive if not necessary. If driving is necessary, do not attempt to drive over a flooded road, as the depth of the water is not always obvious, and the roadway may no longer be intact under the water. Never drive around a barricade, they are placed there for your protection! If your vehicle stalls, leave it immediately and move to higher ground before water sweeps you and your vehicle away.
  • DO NOT try to walk, swim, or play in flood water. You may not be able to determine if there are holes or submerged debris, or how quickly the water is flowing, and you may be swept away. If water is moving swiftly, as little as 6 inches of water can knock you off of your feet! There is also a danger of hazardous materials polluting the water. Also remember that water is an electrical conductor, if there are power lines down, there is a possibility of electrocution.
  • Always continue to monitor the situation through your NOAA Weather Radio All-Hazards, local television or radio stations.
Why is "Turn Around - Don't Drown" so important?

Each year, more deaths occur due to flooding than from any other severe weather related hazard. The main reason is people underestimate the force and power of water. More than half of all flood related deaths result from vehicles being swept downstream. Of these, many are preventable.

For more information visit the NOAA's Flash Flood Safety Guide.

Keep Food Safe During Spring and Summer Storms

From thunderstorms to flooding, when spring and summer severe weather strikes it's important to remember basic food safety information if there are power outages or other problems, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln food safety specialist said.

"After a storm has knocked out electricity, it can take from a few hours to a few days for electricity to be restored," Julie Albrecht, UNL food safety specialist in the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, said. "Without electricity or a cold source, the food inside your fridge or freezer can become unsafe. Bacteria in food grows rapidly in the 'temperature danger zone' between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. People can become sick if they eat foods that have set out for more than two hours at these temperatures."

To prepare for a possible weather emergency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends:
  • Keep an appliance thermometer in the refrigerator and freezer. This will indicate the temperature in the fridge or freezer and help determine the safety of food.
  • Make sure the freezer is at zero degrees Fahrenheit or below and the fridge at 40 degrees or below.
  • Freeze containers of water for ice to help keep food cold in the freezer, refrigerator or coolers after the power is out.
  • Freeze refrigerated items such as leftovers, milk and fresh meat and poultry that may not be needed immediately -- this helps keep them at a safe temperature longer.
  • Plan ahead and know where dry ice and block ice can be purchased.
  • Store food on shelves that will be safely out of the way of contaminated water in case of flooding.
  • Have coolers on hand to keep refrigerator food cold if the power will be out for more than four hours. Purchase or make ice cubes and store in the freezer for use in the refrigerator or in a cooler. Freeze gel packs ahead of time for use in coolers.
  • Group food together in the freezer -- this helps the food stay cold longer.
After the weather emergency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends doing these things:

  • Keep the fridge or freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain cold temperature.
  • The fridge will keep food safely cold for about four hours if it is unopened. A full freezer will hold the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 if it is half full) if the door remains closed.
  • Discard refrigerated perishable food such as meat, poultry, fish, soft cheeses, milk, eggs, leftovers and deli items after four hours without power.
  • Food may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is at 40 degrees or below when checked with a food thermometer.
  • Never taste a food to determine its safety.
  • Obtain dry or block ice to keep the fridge and freezer as cold as possible if the power is going to be out for a prolonged period of time. Fifty pounds of dry ice should hold an 18-cubic-foot full freezer for two days.
  • If the power has been out for several days, check the temperature of the freezer with an appliance thermometer. If it reads 40 degrees or below, the food is safe to refreeze.
  • If a thermometer has not been kept in the freezer, check each package for safety. If it still contains ice crystals, it is safe.
  • Drink only bottled water if flooding has occurred.
  • Discard any food that is not in a waterproof container if there is any chance that it has come in contact with flood water. Discard wooden cutting boards, plastic utensils, baby bottle nipples and pacifiers.
  • Undamaged, commercially prepared foods in all-metal cans and retort packages (for example, flexible, shelf-stable juice or seafood pouches) can be saved. More information is available at
  • Thoroughly wash all metal pans, ceramic dishes and utensils that came in contact with flood water with hot soapy water and sanitize by boiling them in clean water or by immersing them for 15 minutes in a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of drinking water.
  • When in doubt, throw it out!