Are You Ready for a Flood or a Flash Flood?

In-depth information about floods and flash floods from the National Weather Service

Keeping You Ahead of the Storm. Information from the American Red Cross and The Weather Channel on flood safety

Know What to Expect

  • Know your area's flood risk--if unsure, call your local Red Cross chapter, emergency management office, or planning and zoning department.
  • If it has been raining hard for several hours, or steadily raining for several days, be alert to the possibility of a flood.
  • Listen to local radio or TV stations for flood information.

Reduce Potential Flood Damage

  • Raising your furnace, water heater, and electric panel if they are in areas of your home that may be flooded.
  • Consult with a professional for further information if this and other damage reduction measures can be taken.

Floods Can Take Several Hours to Days to Develop

  • A flood WATCH means a flood is possible in your area.
  • A flood WARNING means flooding is already occurring or will occur soon in your area.

Flash Floods Can Take Only a Few Minutes to a Few Hours to Develop

  • A flash flood WATCH means flash flooding is possible in your area.
  • A flash flood WARNING means a flash flood is occurring or will occur very soon.

Prepare a Family Disaster Plan

  • Check to see if you have insurance that covers flooding. If not, find out how to get flood insurance.
  • Keep insurance policies, documents, and other valuables in a safe-deposit box.

Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit

  • First aid kit and essential medications.
  • Canned food and can opener.
  • At least three gallons of water per person
  • Protective clothing, rainwear, and bedding or sleeping bags.
  • Battery-powered radio, flashlight, and extra batteries.
  • Special items for infants, elderly, or disabled family members.
  • Written instructions for how to turn off electricity, gas and water if authorities advise you to do so. (Remember, you'll need a professional to turn them back on.)
  • Identify where you could go if told to evacuate. Choose several places . . . a friend's home in another town, a motel, or a shelter.

When a Flood WATCH Is Issued

  • Move your furniture and valuables to higher floors of your home.
  • Fill your car's gas tank, in case an evacuation notice is issued.

When a Flood WARNING Is Issued

  • Listen to local radio and TV stations for information and advice. If told to evacuate, do so as soon as possible.

When a Flash Flood WATCH Is Issued

  • Be alert to signs of flash flooding and be ready to evacuate on a moment's notice.

When a Flash Flood WARNING Is Issued

  • Or if you think it has already started, evacuate immediately. You may have only seconds to escape. Act quickly!
  • Move to higher ground away from rivers, streams, creeks, and storm drains. Do not drive around barricades . . . they are there for your safety.
  • If your car stalls in rapidly rising waters, abandon it immediately and climb to higher ground.

For More Information About Floods and Flood Safety, Your American Red Cross Can Provide the Following Materials.

  • "Are You Ready for a Flood or Flash Flood?" (ARC 4458)
  • "Está preparado para una inundación or para una inundación súbita?" (ARC 4458S)?" (ARC 4458S)
  • "Flash Floods and Floods . . . The Awesome Power" (ARC 4493)
  • "Safe Living in Your Manufactured Home" (ARC 4465) gives fire, flood, and tornado safety information for people who live in manufactured (mobile) homes.

General Disaster Preparedness Materials for Children

  • "Adventures of the Disaster Dudes" (ARC 5024) video and Presenter's Guide for use by an adult with children in grades 4-6.
  • After a flood, some children may experience difficulty expressing their feelings about the storm. The following coloring book, in English or Spanish, is available from your Red Cross for a parent, teacher, or other adult to use with children to help them deal with their feelings.
  • "After the Flood" Coloring Book (ARC 2204, English, or ARC 2204S, Spanish)

Information for Adults on How to Deal with Flood-Damaged Homes

To get copies of American Red Cross Community Disaster Education materials, contact your local Red Cross chapter.

And remember . . . when a flood, earthquake, tornado, fire, or other emergency happens in your community, you can count on your local American Red Cross chapter to be there to help you and your family. Your Red Cross is not a government agency and depends on contributions of your time, money, and blood. For more information, please contact your local American Red Cross chapter or emergency management office.

If you would like permission to use the information about floods/flash floods on this page in a newsletter or other publication, or on your Website, please e-mail us at:

Information contained here supplied by the American Red Cross