Flood Waters During and After a Disaster

Before, during and after a flood there are steps people can take to be safe. Dana Robison from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains in American Sign Language (ASL).

Additional information on what to do before, during, and after a flood can be found on the Floods page while other preparedness information and resources can be found in the Preparedness section. Information on emergency preparedness for individuals with disabilities or access/functional needs is on the ADA/FNSS page.


Hi, my name is Dana Robison, and I'm from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also known as the CDC. I'm here today to talk about flood waters during and afte

If you live in an area that may flood, gather your emergency kit, and listen to your local news for updated information. If you need to evacuate, and there is time, turn off all utilities at the main power switch and close the main gas valve.

When escaping flood waters, do not get into an attic where you can get trapped. As a last resort, if the highest floor of your home becomes dangerous, get onto the roof. Call 911 for help and stay on the line until the call is answered.

If you are a person with a mobility disability and unable to get to the roof, have a plan, and if possible, evacuate early, before the flood waters arrive. Otherwise, have a plan and let others know who can assist you with your evacuation.

Don't drive or walk through floodwater. It takes as little as six inches of water to lose control of your vehicle, and as little as two feet of water will carry most cars away. Turn around, don't drown. Flood water is dangerous to walk through or play in.

Swiftly moving shallow water can be deadly, and even shallow standing water can be dangerous for small children. Floodwater may also contain sewage and other harmful bacteria or chemicals. Don't let kids play in or around contaminated water, or with toys that have been contaminated by flood water and have not been disinfected.

Practice good hygiene like washing your hands with soap and clean water, especially after contact with flood waters. And never go near flood waters with an open wound. If floodwater touches a wound, be sure to wash it thoroughly and get medical attention.

After a flood, people are eager to return home to assess property damage.

Do not return to the house until you are told it is safe to do so by local officials. Use extreme caution when returning to your area after a flood. Be aware of potential hazards you may encounter.

It's best to return to your home during the daytime so that you do not have to use any lights, which can be potentially dangerous if there are electrical problems. If you smell gas or suspect a leak, turn off the main gas valve, open all windows, and leave the house immediately. Notify the gas company and the police or fire departments or State Fire Marshal's office, and immediately leave the house without turning lights on or off, which can spark an explosion.

Your electrical system may also be damaged. If you see frayed wiring or sparks, or if there is an odor of something burning but no visible fire, you should immediately shut off the electrical system at the circuit breaker.

Avoid any downed power lines, particularly those in water. Avoid wading in standing water, which also may contain glass or metal fragments.

You should consult your utility company about using electrical equipment, including power generators, to ensure you are in compliance with regulations. If a generator is on line when electrical service is restored, it can become a major fire hazard. Improper connection of a generator to your home's electrical circuits may endanger electric workers helping to restore power. It is advisable to have a certified electrician check all electric equipment and appliances exposed to water prior to use. View "Returning Home Safely Video" for more information.

Make sure to clean your home thoroughly after a flood to help prevent the spread of disease. Try not to breathe in product fumes. If using cleaning products indoors, open windows and doors to allow fresh air to enter. Make sure to wear protective gloves, goggles, and rubber boots. Always read instructions when using any cleaning product. Never mix bleach with ammonia or other cleaners, since this can make dangerous, toxic fumes.

Be sure to clean and disinfect areas that may come into contact with food, such as counter tops, pantry shelves, refrigerators, and areas where small children play.

Do not allow children and pets in the house until cleanup is finished.