Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream……
Summer in El Paso can get very hot and then suddenly we can get several days of nonstop downpour. These conditions make it very likely that we will have flash flooding, especially as the “monsoon” season of late July and August begins. A flash flood is when the roads suddenly turn into racing streams that can carry people and vehicles away.
How can you keep yourself and your children safe in flash flood conditions?
First of all, listen for local weather advisories on the radio or TV that will issue either a flash flood watch or a flash flood warning.
The National Weather Service will issue a Flash Flood Watch when heavy rains may result in flash flooding in a specific area. In this case you should be alert and prepare for the possibility of a flood emergency which will require immediate action.
A Flash Flood Warning will be issued when flash flooding is occurring or is about to occur in a specified area. If your area is placed under a warning, you should move to safe ground immediately.
Flash Flooding usually occurs within 6 hours of a heavy rain event.
FLASH FLOOD SAFETY RULES
- Post emergency numbers near every home phone and program the numbers into cell phones.
- In hilly terrain, flash floods can strike with little or no advance warning. Distant rain may be channeled into gullies and ravines, turning a quiet stream into a rampaging torrent in minutes. Never camp on low ground next to streams since a flash flood can catch you while you’re asleep.
- Do not cross flowing stream on foot where water is above your ankles.
- If you are driving, don’t try to cross water-filled areas of unknown depths. If your vehicle stalls, abandon it immediately and go to higher ground. Rapidly rising water may sweep the vehicle and its occupants away. Many deaths have been caused by attempts to move stalled vehicles.
- Be especially cautious at night. It’s harder to recognize water danger then.
- Don’t try to outrace a flood on foot. If you see or hear it coming, move to higher ground immediately.
- Be familiar with the land features where you live, work, and play. It may be in a low area, near a drainage ditch or small stream, or below a dam. Be prepared!
- Stay tuned to local weather reports for the latest statements, watches and warnings concerning heavy rain and flash flooding in your area, report it to the National Weather Service.
After the rain is over and it is possible to walk/drive around, make sure your children:
- do not play in dirty water—many infections occur after flash floods
- do not walk around without shoes
- do not play with stray or injured animals—they may bite or be very sick
- are protected with bug spray since mosquito season is also at same time as flash floods