Floods

Flooding is when a lot of water overflows onto land that is normally dry. It is the most common natural-weather event. Flooding can happen during heavy rains, when rivers overflow, when ocean waves come on the shore, when snow melts too fast, or when dams or levees break. Flooding may be only a few inches of water, or it may cover a house to the rooftop. Floods that happen very quickly are called flash floods. Floods can cause power outages, disrupt transportation, damage buildings, and create landslides.

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic will be ongoing as flooding continues to occur throughout the year. Remember to follow the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and your state and local authorities to protect yourself and your family from COVID-19 and other disasters.

Words to Know

Floods can happen in every U.S. state and territory. Some floods develop slowly, and some can happen in just a few minutes. People who live in low-lying areas (near water sources or at sea-level) are at even greater risk. Storms and hurricanes can cause flooding. Melting snow from mountains can also cause floods.

Living through environmental disasters, like flooding, can be more complicated when we are also experiencing a pandemic like COVID-19. It is important to be prepared and to understand how COVID-19 might affect you and your family. 

COVID-19 may affect different people in different ways. By practicing good health habits, like washing your hands and social distancing, you can lower your chances of getting sick, both from COVID-19 and in general. 

Before

  • Make a plan. Having a plan of what you and your family will do in the event of an emergency will help. 
  • Work with your parents to build an emergency kit with items that you will need if you have to evacuate quickly. Your kit should include cleaning supplies, two masks per person to prevent the spread of COVID-19, non-perishable foods, and water that could last for several days or weeks in case you must stay at home. 
  • Make a family communications plan.
  • Tell an adult if you hear about a flood warning on the TV or radio.
  • Help your family move important items to an upper floor. 
  • Tell your parents if you are not feeling well. Avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes. Wash your hands often, especially after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, using the bathroom, and eating or making food. 

During

  • Pay attention to authorities and safety officials. If there is any possibility of a flash flood, move to higher ground or find shelter.
  • Do not walk, swim, drive or ride in a car through flood waters. Even six inches of moving water knock you off your feet. 
  • Stay off bridges over fast-moving water. Fast-moving water can wash bridges away without warning.
  • If your family must evacuate, ask your parent to bring supplies that can help you protect yourself and your family from COVID-19, like masks and hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Remember that children under two years old, people who have trouble breathing, and people who cannot remove the mask on their own should not wear them. 
  • Avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes, especially with unwashed hands. 
  • If you and your family must stay at a shelter or public facility, maintain a distance of at least six feet, or about two adult arm lengths, between you and people who are not in your household. Remember: Don’t go near crowds or groups. 

After

  • If you and your family must stay at a shelter or public facility, wear a mask. Don’t wear a mask if you have trouble breathing. Babies, kids under the age of two, and people who have trouble breathing should not wear them. 
  • Do not touch electrical equipment if it is wet or if you are standing in water.
  • Stay away from flood water. Flood water may be contaminated, meaning containing dangerous substances.
  • Stay away from moving water. It can knock you off your feet.
  • Stay out of the way of emergency workers so they can do their job easily.
  • Remind your parents to clean surfaces that people touch frequently, like doorknobs, light switches, and remote controls. Remember that you should not take part in disaster cleanup work. 
  • Know that it’s normal to feel anxious or stressed out. Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. Take care of your body and talk with your parents or other trusted adults if you are feeling upset.

Staying Healthy 

  • Cover your coughs and sneezes! If you are not wearing a mask, use a tissue or cough or sneeze into your elbow. If you do use a tissue, throw it in the trash right away. 
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice while you wash your hands. Make sure to wash your hands after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, using the bathroom, and before eating or cooking. 
  • If you can’t find soap and water to wash your hands, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. 
  • Stay away from people who are coughing, sneezing, or sick.
  • Remind your parents to clean surfaces that people touch frequently, like doorknobs, light switches, and remote controls.
  • Tell your parents if you feel sick.

Did you know?

Flooding can wash out walkways, roads, and fields, making them impossible to detect under flood water. Do not walk or ride in a car through water. It might be deeper than you think! A foot of water can sweep a vehicle off the road. Stay away from moving water!

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Last Updated: 11/17/2020