Turn around, don't drown!
That's the official message from the National Weather Service when it comes to flood safety. They reported 59 deaths last year due to floods and flash floods, two of which were in Illinois.
Thankfully this number was much lower than recent years. In 2017, 180 people died in floods and flash floods, and in 2015 that number was 189.
In Illinois, 53 people have died in floods since 1995. This is more than the number of tornado-related fatalities during that time. More than 3/4 of these deaths involved someone in a vehicle trying to cross a flooded road.
Flash floods are especially dangerous because they can happen so quickly. These happen when heavy rain falls during a short amount of time. A good example of this is a slow-moving or training thunderstorm.
Here are some flood safety tips from the National Weather Service:
- Keep an eye on the latest weather and make sure you have a way to receive any weather warnings like a NOAA Weather Radio or our Heart of Illinois ABC app.
- Never drive through a flooded roadway. You won't be able to tell how deep the water is or if part of the road has been washed out. It only takes about a foot of rushing water to lift your vehicle.
- Keep valuable items on an upper floor of your home (move them only if time permits).
- Be ready to move to higher ground if needed.
- If told to evacuate the area that you are in, be prepared to do so quickly.