How to Survive a Flash Flood

Illustration by Angelica Alzona.

Flood waters may not look all that threatening on TV, especially if you’re a skilled swimmer. But flash floods, like what recently happened in the Midwest, are actually incredibly dangerous, and they can strike with little to no warning. This is what you should do if you or your vehicle gets swept away by the raging waters.

Awareness and prevention is always going to be your best chance of survival. Flash flooding can occur without obvious visual cues like clouds and heavy rain, so sign up for local weather alerts, and be sure to check local forecasts if weather starts to look a little questionable. A flood “watch” means flooding is possible in your area. A flood “warning” means flooding is already occurring and you should be ready to evacuate if things get bad. It also helps to know what spots are most likely to flood in your area. Take note of canyons, drainage channels, streambeds, and other low locations. Flood insurance is also a good idea if you live in areas prone to flash flooding. Just make sure you acquire it sooner rather than later as it takes 30 days for flood insurance to kick in.

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