COLORADO SPRINGS — Flash flooding is the most common natural hazard in Colorado Springs according to the City of Colorado Springs.
Flash floods tend to occur from May through September and are usually caused by thunderstorms that are out of sight and out of the hearing range of people downstream. Runoff from the mountains can quickly cause water levels of small creeks and dry streambeds to rise to unsafe levels. These walls of water are fast moving and can easily reach heights of ten to 20 feet. The city of Colorado says you should know which streams and waterways are nearby, and where you are in relation to them.
You should never attempt to cross an area that is flooding. It only takes six inches of fast-moving water to knock you off your feet. Just ten inches of moving water can move a car, and 18 inches can float your vehicle.
Your best course of action is to immediately seek higher ground.
- An advisory means that isolated flooding of streams, streets, and low-lying areas, such as railroad underpasses and urban storm drains is occurring.
- A flash flood watch means that flash flooding is possible. Be alert and prepared to move to high ground. Watch for rising water levels or unusual street flooding is possible. Listen to local radio or television stations or Weather Service radio for possible flash flood warnings and bulletins. Locate a hand crank or battery-powered radio and extra batteries.
- A flash flood warning means that a flash flood is occurring or is about to occur. If necessary relocate immediately and seek high ground away from high-risk areas and water. Do not attempt to cross moving water either on foot or in your vehicle.
Preparing for a Flood
Make a plan for your household, including your pets, so that you and your family know what to do, where to go, and what you will need to protect yourselves from flooding.
Learn and practice evacuation routes, shelter plans, and flash flood response.
Gather supplies, including non-perishable foods, cleaning supplies, and water for several days, in case you must leave immediately or if services are cut off in your area.
In Case of Emergency
Keep important documents in a waterproof container.
Create password-protected digital copies. Protect your property. Move valuables to higher levels. Declutter drains and gutters. Install check valves. Consider a sump pump with a battery.
- Evacuate immediately, if told to evacuate. Never drive around barricades. Local responders use them to safely direct traffic out of flooded areas.
- Contact your healthcare provider If you are sick and need medical attention. Wait for further care instructions and shelter in place, if possible. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1.
- Listen to EAS, NOAA Weather Radio or local alerting systems for current emergency information and instructions regarding flooding.
- Do not walk, swim or drive through flood waters. Turn Around. Don’t Drown!
- Stay off bridges over fast-moving water. Fast-moving water can wash bridges away without warning.
- Stay inside your car if it is trapped in rapidly moving water. Get on the roof if water is rising inside the car.
- Get to the highest level if trapped in a building. Only get on the roof if necessary and once there signal for help. Do not climb into a closed attic to avoid getting trapped by rising floodwater.
Staying safe after a flood
- Pay attention to authorities for information and instructions. Return home only when authorities say it is safe.
- Avoid driving except in emergencies.
- Wear heavy work gloves, protective clothing and boots during clean up and use appropriate face coverings or masks if cleaning mold or other debris.
- People with asthma and other lung conditions and/or immune suppression should not enter buildings with indoor water leaks or mold growth that can be seen or smelled. Children should not take part in disaster cleanup work.
- Be aware that snakes and other animals may be in your house.
- Be aware of the risk of electrocution. Do not touch electrical equipment if it is wet or if you are standing in water. Turn off the electricity to prevent electric shock if it is safe to do so.
- Avoid wading in floodwater, which can be contaminated and contain dangerous debris. Underground or downed power lines can also electrically charge the water.
- Use a generator or other gasoline-powered machinery ONLY outdoors and away from windows.