Monsoon rains are threatening to cause dangerous flash flooding in a few western states where several people have already lost their lives in the floodwaters. The American Red Cross is watching the situation to respond if necessary and urges everyone to follow the flooding safety steps below.
Flash flood watches have been issued in California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona through the weekend. Flash floods occur very quickly and can catch people off-guard, especially if traveling. A flash flood watch means flooding is possible. A flash flood warning means flooding is already happening and people should take immediate precautions.
Some areas have already received more rain than during the 2020 monsoon season which, according to the National Park Service, occurs in July, August and September. Scarred ground from previous wildfires could make the situation worse.
Download the free Red Cross Emergency app for real-time weather alerts, open Red Cross shelter locations and expert advice on floods. You can find it by searching “American Red Cross” in app stores, or at redcross.org/apps.
- Turn around, don’t drown! Stay off the roads. If you must drive and you encounter a flooded roadway, turn around and go another way.
- If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising around you, quickly get out of the car, move to higher ground and stay there. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water. If you must drive, avoid flooded roadways.
- If power lines are down, don’t step in any puddles or standing water.
- Follow evacuation orders and don’t return home until officials say it is safe.
- If your neighborhood is prone to flooding, prepare to evacuate quickly if necessary.
- Tune into your local radio, NOAA radio or news channel for the latest updates.
- Stay away from floodwaters. Beware of snakes, insects and other animals that may be in or around floodwaters and your home. Keep children and pets away from hazardous sites and floodwaters.
After flooding, wear protective clothing, including rubber gloves and boots, and be cautious when cleaning up.
- Throw out items that absorb water and cannot be cleaned or disinfected. This includes mattresses, carpeting, cosmetics, stuffed animals and baby toys. Discard all food, beverages and medicine exposed to floodwaters and mud.
- Check the outside of your home before you enter. Look for loose power lines, broken or damaged gas lines, foundation cracks, missing support beams and other damage.
- If you smell gas or hear a hissing noise, leave the property immediately and get far away. Call the fire department after you reach safety.
- If the weather is dry, open windows and doors to ventilate and dry out your home.