Weather Safety: Flash Flood Safety Lessons For Kids

About flash floods: safety tips for children.

Once your children are school-aged, it is important to teach them safety precautions for dangerous weather conditions such as flash floods. It is critical that children understand what a flash flood is and what to do during flood conditions. These tips will help you educate your children and prepare your whole family for a flash flood.

What is a flash flood?

The first step to knowing what to do in a flash flood is to understand what it is and when it happens. A flood is when a large amount of water covers the ground. A flood can happen because of a heavy rain, because a creek, river or lake overflows, when ice and snow melts too quickly or when a dam breaks. A flood can occur nearly anywhere it can be just a few inches of water or the water can be very deep.

A flash flood is a flood that happens really quickly. The water in a flash flood moves very rapidly. Most often, a flash flood is caused by rain that falls faster than the rate of one inch per hour. A flash flood can occur in areas where it is not currently raining, since the floodwaters move rapidly downstream. Flash floods are most common in mountain stream areas and canyons, but they can happen in cities too.

Flash flood watches & warnings

In the event of a flash flood watch or warning, a message is usually broadcast on local radio and television stations. Children should be taught to recognize these alert messages and to know how to react to them.

A flash flood watch means it is possible for a flash flood to happen in a particular area. A flash flood warning means a flash flood is either occurring or is about to happen. If children hear a flash flood watch alert, they should immediately tell an adult and should stay tuned to the station that issued the broadcast in case the watch is upgraded to a warning. In the event of a flash flood warning, children should tell an adult immediately and follow all of the advice for "what to do in a flash flood." The alert will indicate the geographic areas that may be affected by the flash flood, so they should listen carefully to see if their neighborhood is included. Children should be taught their city, county and zip code as well as how to locate your home on an area weather map to help them identify whether an alert pertains to them.

During a flash flood watch, it is a good idea to prepare in case conditions worsen. Alert other people about the watch, seek an appropriate location for shelter in case evacuation is necessary, move valuable items, important paperwork and pets to higher locations within your house.

What to do in a flash flood

In the event of a flash flood warning, it is important to act quickly in order to stay safe. Children should be taught to immediately tell nearby adults if they hear a flash flood warning has been issued or if they see water rising.

Children should be taught the following safety tips for flash floods:

- If your area is recommended for evacuation, listen carefully for instructions on safe places to go. Seek shelter in locations on high ground.

- If you are outdoors, immediately seek shelter on the highest outdoor ground possible. Stay away from rivers, streams and ponds. Avoid storm drains since the areas around them often flood when the water cannot drain quickly enough. Do not walk through floodwater that is above your calves. Even water that is only knee deep can have swiftly moving currents and be life threatening.

- If you are indoors, move to the highest place possible within the building. If you have time, take bottled water, a blanket, and snacks with you as well as a battery-powered radio so you can continue to monitor the flood conditions.

- If you are in a car, remind the driver not to go over roads or bridges that are covered with water. It is very easy for cars to be washed away in floods. If the water is rising, do not try to drive through it; do not stay in the car. Leave the car and seek high ground as quickly as possible.

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