U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.


Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock () or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.


  1. Home
  2. News
  3. Blog

Was this page helpful?

“Turn Around, Don’t Drown:” Flood Safety Advice from NOAA

Flooding affects every region differently, but it poses a threat to every state, from coast to coast. Floods can occur due to high tides in coastal areas, heavy rain, overflowing rivers, or storm surge associated with hurricanes and tropical storms.

Floods are dangerous and costly. In 2021, U.S. flood fatalities reached 145 and over the past 40 years, flooding has cost about $4 billion per year in the U.S. While the immediate risks associated with floods include drowning, hypothermia, injuries and property damage, the damage after a flood can also be dangerous, as floodwaters can become contaminated with sewage or chemicals and electrical systems could be compromised.

Some flooding develops slowly, while other types of flooding can occur within minutes. It's important to know what to do in the event of a flood. Here are some tips from NOAA experts on flood safety:

Before a flood

One of the best ways to protect you and your property during a flood is to prepare beforehand. It is important to have a flood emergency kit, especially if you live in flood-prone areas. This should consist of any needed medications, bandages, fresh water, preserved food such as canned items, battery-powered radio, and a flashlight. Be sure to understand the risks associated with your neighborhood and home and think about how to evacuate if flooding occurs. Establish a communication plan so that you can stay in touch with family during a severe weather event, like flooding, and take steps to protect your home and valuables before a disaster strikes.

During a flood

During a flood, water levels and the rate the water is flowing can quickly change. It's important to take the following steps to stay safe:

  • Listen to your local stations, NOAA Weather Radio, and trusted social media accounts for flooding condition updates and follow local instructions.
  • If instructed to evacuate by local authorities, do so immediately. Lock your home when you leave, and if possible, turn off utilities, power, and gas. Do not enter any room where water is covering electrical outlets or you hear buzzing, crackling, or snapping sounds. The water could be carrying electrical current.
  • Do not walk or drive through flood waters. If you are trapped by moving water, move to the highest point and call 911. Vehicles can get swept away by as little as twelve inches of moving water– when in doubt, “Turn around, don’t drown!”

After a flood

After flooding occurs, only return home following an evacuation after local authorities have alerted you it is safe to do so. Avoid contact with flood waters as they may be contaminated. Do not drive through flooded areas as the water could still contain chemicals, sharp objects, and other dangers.

It is important to practice safe cleaning and throw out any items that may have been contaminated by flood waters, especially food. If you have lost power or other services, ensure you are following best safety practices and guidance from local authorities, including any boil water advisories and operating a generator safely. Make sure to get in touch with family and important contacts to let them know you are safe.

For more flood safety tips, visit: https://www.weather.gov/safety/flood