Flooding is one of the most significant environmental dangers, and one that confronts millions of Americans every year. In 2016, for example, there were 19 separate floods that ravaged parts of the country, including one in Louisiana that killed 13 people and destroyed roughly 60,000 buildings. 

In Missouri, where this author lives and serves as a member of his professional fire department’s water rescue team, a year rarely passes in which we do not pull at least one person out of a flash flood. Recently, there have been multiple such rescues, including in 2016, in which our relatively mid-sized department performed close to 50 water rescues over the course of one month.

For the purposes of this article, we will focus on what to do if you find yourself on the move during a flash flood, away from the safety of your home and out in the open. At least where this author lives and works, this is the most common circumstance in which we must perform water rescues.

Turn around, don’t drown. 

The smartest thing you and your family can do to avoid becoming flood victims is to avoid the flood waters altogether. This sounds easy, and really, it is. Move to higher ground. Do not try to cross bridges and roads in low-lying areas, where water usually flows.