Flooding is a potential threat in many parts of Missouri. And even if your house is not in a flood plain, you may drive through one on your way home, warned a University of Missouri Extension community development specialist.
"Most flood-related deaths are caused by people trying to drive through moving water," said Georgia Stuart-Simmons. "Most cars will float — and be swept away — in 18 to 24 inches of moving water. Trucks and SUVs are not much better with only 6 to 12 more inches of clearance. Creeks and rivers can rise very rapidly, or the road bottom could wash away, making the water much deeper than it appears."
Once cars are swept downstream, they will often roll to one side or even flip over entirely. The driver has only a few seconds to escape.
"Many drivers panic as soon as the vehicle submerges and are found later with their seat belt still fastened," she said. "Never, never try to drive through moving water."
If it has been raining hard for several hours, or if it has been steadily raining for several days, be alert to the possibility of a flood. Stay tuned to local radio or TV stations for flood information. A flood watch means a flood is possible in your area. A flood warning means flooding is already occurring or will occur soon in your area.
No matter what type of emergency you may face, it’s important to have a disaster supply kit. If flooding cuts you off from supply sources, you might need:
First-aid kit and essential medications
Canned food and can opener
At least three gallons of water per person
Protective clothing, rainwear, and bedding or sleeping bags
Battery-powered radio, flashlight and extra batteries
Special items for infants, elderly or disabled family members
Written instructions for how to turn off electricity, gas and water if authorities advise you to do so. (Remember, you’ll need a professional to turn them back on)
"You will also need to know where to go if told to evacuate," Stuart-Simmons said. "Choose several places — a friend’s home in another town, a motel or a shelter."
If a flood watch is issued for your area, move valuables to higher floors. Keep a full tank of gas in your car in case an evacuation notice is issued.
When flooding is imminent, move to higher ground away from rivers, streams, creeks and storm drains. Do not drive around barricades. They are there for your safety.
For more information flood-related resources and information, go to http://extension.missouri.edu/n/2565 .