What You Should Do if a Flash Flood Occurs

What to Do During a Flash Flood

As for Any Disaster, Have a Plan & Preparedness Kit Ready for Your Family

We recommend putting together a family emergency plan and a 72 hour kit.

Before a Flood Ever Strikes, Get Flood Insurance

Many  homeowners are shocked to discover that their homeowner's (or renter's) insurance policies do not cover flooding. Check with your insurance agent to see what your coverage would be in the event of a flood. View more information on the National Flood Insurance Program.

Secure Outside Propane or Other Fuel Tanks

During the flood of Fort Collins in 1997, one major issue that emergency responders faced were outside propane and heating oil tanks floating away. As the tanks became free of their moorings, the fuel lines ruptured and caused massive fires during the flood. Having your tanks properly secured before a flood reduces this risk. Also be sure that your underground tanks are properly secured and are at the proper depth. It is possible for poorly set underground tanks to become buoyant during a flood and come to the surface.

Be Flood Alert Sign
Fire in a Flood

If You Suspect a Flash Flood, Immediately Head to Higher Ground

Keeping your safety in mind, warn those around you and get to the highest point possible. As little as 6 inches of rushing water can sweep you downstream, so do everything you can to stay away from running flood waters.

During Periods of Intense Rainfall, Listen to Your NOAA Weather Radio, Local Television, or Local Radio

What you are listening for are Flash Flood Watches or Flash Flood Warnings. A watch means that flash floods are possible, and a warning means that flash floods are occurring or imminent. If you are in an area where a flash flood warning is issued, immediately get to higher ground.

Listen for Distant Sounds Like Thunder or a Train, Especially Up Canyons

Many people describe the sound of an oncoming flash flood as a train, rumble, thunder, or loud wind. Canyon walls can amplify this sound as water comes rushing down stream. If you hear this, immediately head to higher ground.

Watch for Rapidly Rising Water

If you see streams that are normally dry or nearly dry that suddenly have rushing water in them, this can be a sign of an approaching flash flood. Head for higher ground.

Do Not Approach Flood Waters

Flood waters can be contaminated with automobile fuel, waste, or other hazardous materials. Additionally, as little as 6 inches of fast moving water can sweep you off of your feet. Never attempt to cross flowing water in a flood situation.

Never Attempt to Cross Flood Waters in Your Vehicle

One foot of water can float most passenger vehicles, and two feet of water is enough to float large trucks and other vehicles. You may find this hard to believe, but think of how massive aircraft carriers are, and they float just fine! It isn't the size of the vehicle, but the buoyancy. Additionally, you can't tell if that "puddle" you are about to drive through is actually a pond due to the road being washed out. Nearly half of all flash flood fatalities are auto related. Remember the National Weather Service's saying: Turn Around, Don't Drown®.

Stay Tuned to Eas Broadcasts for Instruction Before, During, & Following the Disaster

Listen to your NOAA All-Hazards Weather Radio or another Emergency Alert System (EAS) broadcaster for instructions from emergency services before, during, and following a disaster.

Educate Yourself

Check out our Teton County Flood Maps to see if your home or workplace is in a floodplain or at risk for flash flooding. These maps only take into consideration major flooding or catastrophic failure of the Jackson Lake Dam. Remember if the conditions are right, flash floods can occur almost anywhere.

Another great resource is FEMA's flood page, where you'll find more information on what to do before, during, and after a flood. Also check out Ready.gov's section on floods for more information. For a quick reference guide, you can check out a pamphlet on flood preparedness (PDF) by the National Weather Service and the Red Cross.