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Be prepared for spring flooding in Montana

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On the heels of a long winter that saw historic snowfall across much of Montana, flooding is now a growing concern.

The Montana Red Cross urges everyone to be prepared should flooding occur in your area. Follow the steps below to keep your family safe this spring.

BEFORE A FLOOD

Prepare in advance

  • Assemble an emergency preparedness kit, which should include a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, nonperishable food, water, flashlight, first aid kit, emergency blanket, medications and copies of your personal documents. To see a complete list, visit http://www.redcross.org/get-help/prepare-for-emergencies/be-red-cross-ready/get-a-kit.
  • Create a household emergency plan and practice as many elements of that plan as possible. This includes identifying responsibilities for each member of your household and how you will work together as a team.
  • Stay informed about your community’s risk and response plans.
  • Download the free Red Cross Emergency App for iPhone or for Android.  

Right before a flood

  • Listen to local radio, NOAA radio or TV stations for the latest information.
  • Be prepared to evacuate quickly and know your routes. Find an emergency shelter.
  • Check your emergency kit and replenish any items in short supply such as medications.

 If you have time, also do this

  • Fill your car’s gas tank.
  • Bring outdoor belongings, such as patio furniture, indoors.
  • Turn off propane tanks to reduce the potential for fire.
  • Move your furniture and valuables to higher floors of your home.
  • Turn off utilities if told to do so by authorities to prevent damage to your home. If you shut off your gas, a professional is required to turn it back on.
  • Unplug small appliances to reduce potential damage from power surges that might occur.

If you have pets or livestock

  • Consider a precautionary evacuation of your animals, especially large animals.
  • Where possible, move livestock to higher ground. If using a horse or other trailer to evacuate your animals, move sooner rather than later.
  • Bring your companion animals indoors and maintain direct control of them. Be sure that your pet emergency kit is ready to go in case of evacuation.

DURING A FLOOD

Staying safe indoors

  • Turn off the power and water mains if instructed to do so by local authorities.
  • Boil tap water until water sources have been declared safe.
  • Avoid contact with floodwater. It may be contaminated with sewage or contain dangerous insects or animals.
  • Continue listening to local area radio, NOAA radio or TV stations for the latest information and updates.
  • Don’t use gas or electrical appliances that have been flooded.
  • Dispose of any food that contacts flood water.

Staying safe outdoors

  • Don't walk, swim or drive through floodwater. Just six inches of fast-flowing water can knock you over and two feet will float a car.
  • If caught on a flooded road with rapidly rising waters, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground.
  • Don't walk on riverbanks.
  • Don’t allow children to play in or near flood water.
  • Avoid contact with floodwater. It may be contaminated with sewage or contain dangerous insects or animals.
  • Stay out of areas subject to flooding such as underpasses, dips, and canyons.

AFTER A FLOOD

  • Let friends and family know you’re safe. 
  • If evacuated, return only when authorities say it is safe to do so.
  • Keep children and pets away from hazardous sites and floodwater.

Know the difference

A flood/flash flood watch means a flood or flash flood is possible.

A flood/flash flood warning means flooding or flash flooding is already occurring or will occur soon. 

For more information about how prepare for and respond to flooding visit http://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/flood#About.