June 21, 2018

What to Do in Case of a Flash Flood


Topanga is no stranger to floods.

Eighteen to 24 inches of moving water can wash an SUV off of the road. In fact, according to the National Weather Service, more than half of all flood-related deaths are people driving through flooded roads.

With the risk of flash flooding in the past few weeks, the nonprofit Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH)® reminds residents to “Turn Around, Don’t Drown!” and offers the following flood safety tips to protect your home and family.


• Clear yard of any debris, plant material. garden décor, foliage, or garbage cans, that can block water flow and storm drains.

• When time permits, secure and/or elevate outdoor appliances, AC units or storage tanks.

•Place important papers (birth/marriage certificates, passports, bank and insurance information) in a watertight container. Take photographs or videos to create an inventory of your personal possessions and keep the camera card handy in case of evacuation.

• Identify and move electronics and other expensive items (computers, televisions, phone systems, area rugs, expensive furniture) on lower levels of the home and elevate if possible to keep them dry.

• When using sandbags, fill one-half full, fold the top of sandbag down and rest bag on its folded top.

• Limit sandbag placement to three layers, unless stacked up against a building or place sandbags in a pyramid. Tamp each sandbag into place, completing each layer prior to starting the next layer.

• Clear a path between buildings for debris flow, and lay a plastic sheet in between the building and the sand bags to control the flow and prevent water from seeping in.


• Avoid flooded areas or those with rapid water flow. Do not attempt to cross a flowing stream. It takes only six inches of fast flowing water to sweep you off your feet.

• Don’t allow children to play near high water, storm drains or ditches. Hidden dangers could lie beneath the water.

• Turn Around, Don’t Drown! Flooded roads could have significant damage hidden by floodwaters. Never drive through floodwaters or on flooded roads. Water only two feet deep can float most vehicles.

• Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams and washes, particularly when threatening conditions exist.

• Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to see flooded roads.

• Stay alert as conditions can be ripe for mudslides especially when driving. Watch the road for collapsed pavement, mud, and other indications of a possible debris flow.

• Be aware of any sudden increase or decrease in water flow and notice whether the water changes from clear to muddy. These changes may mean there is debris flow activity upstream so be prepared to move quickly. Listen for sounds that indicate moving debris, such as trees cracking.


Take photographs of damage throughout the building and around the property. Assess stability of plaster and drywall. Bulging or swelling ceilings indicate damage. Press upward on drywall ceilings. If nail heads appear, drywall will need to be re-nailed but can be saved.

Check foundation for any loose or missing blocks, bricks, stones or mortar.

Clean and disinfect heating, air conditioning and ventilation ducts before use to avoid spread of airborne germs and mold spores. Use fans and sunlight to dry out interior spaces. Remove all wet carpets, curtains and fabrics. Allow to air dry completely.

To learn more about how much flooding can cost you check out this cost of flooding tool provided by FloodSmart. For information on floodproofing your home, FLASH or visit FEMA.

About FLASH—Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH)®, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, is the country's leading consumer advocate for strengthening homes and safeguarding families from natural and man-made disasters. FLASH collaborates with more than 120 innovative and diverse partners that share its vision of making America a more disaster‐resilient nation.

Learn more about FLASH and gain access to its free consumer resources at: flash.org; (877) 221-SAFE (7233).

For more safety tips: FLASH blog—Protect Your Home in a FLASH (protect-your-home.org).