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Plan & Prepare

Floods: What to do During a Flood or Flash Flood

(Much of the information on this page is adapted from information provided by the American Red Cross, and FEMA).

Steps To Take During a Flood:

  • Check the items in your Emergency Kit and review your family emergency plan.
  • Listen for instructions from public safety officers and the National Weather Service.
    • Flood or Flash Flood Watch: issued by the National Weather Service and means flooding or flash flooding is possible in your area.
    • Flood or Flash Flood Warning: issued by the National Weather service and means a flood or flash flood will occur very soon or is already occurring.
  • Stay Informed
    • Social Media.
      "Like" the NJOEM on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/READYNEWJERSEY 
      Follow us on Twitter: https:/www.twitter.com/ReadyNJ.
      Be sure to sign up for Twitter Alerts at the NJOEM account set up page so you can receive a direct notification to your phone whenever NJOEM issues an alert.
    • Reverse 9-1-1. Find out if your community has a "reverse 9-1-1" system or if you can opt-in for email updates from municipal officials.
    • Nixle Connect allows the NJ State Police and the NJOEM to send messages to the public by text/SMS, e-mail, and Internet posts. Register to receive messages by sending a text message with your zip code to 888777 (data rates may apply depending on your plan). You can also register on-line at www.nixle.com.
    • NJ Alert is a free, voluntary and confidential emergency alerting system that allows NJOEM officials to send e-mail or text messages to cell phones and other email enabled devices during an emergency. Sign up for NJ Alert by logging on to: http://www.njalert.gov.
    • NOAA Weather Radio. NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts official Weather Service warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from a station nearest your location. NOAA Weather Radios are typically inexpensive, easily available in stores and can usually be programmed for your specific area. NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards
    • TV, radio and newspapers. Continue to monitor these outlets to stay informed of breaking news and continued coverage of emergency events.
    • Cellular Mobile Emergency Alert System (CMAS). The National Weather Service can now send free weather warnings directly to your phone if a hazard is imminent in New Jersey. Check with your wireless carrier to see if your wireless phone is WEA (Wireless Emergency Alert) enabled to receive these messages.
    • Connect with your local information sources. Contact your County Office of Emergency Management to learn about the localized information sources provided by your county.
    • Get up-to-date severe weather information:
    • For more detailed advice, check out our Staying Informed page
  • Protect your home and secure valuables.
    • Fill bathtubs, sinks and jugs with clean water in case tap water supplies become contaminated.Tip: Sanitize the sinks and bathtubs by using bleach. Rinse, then fill with clean water.
    • Move valuables, such as papers, furs, jewelry and clothing to upper floors or higher elevations.
    • Bring outdoor itemsinside or tie down securely, for example lawn furniture, grills and trashcans.
    • If waters start to rise inside your house before you have evacuated, retreat to the second floor, the attic, and if necessary, the roof.
    • If public officials instruct you to do so, shut off water and electricity.
    • Leave natural gas service ON unless local officials advise you otherwise.
  • Prepare to evacuate, in case public safety officials direct you to do so.
    • Fill your car's gas tank, or listen for evacuation instructions for those who depend on public transit.
    • If told to evacuate by public safety officials, do so immediately. See the Evacuation instructions below.
  • Avoid coming in contact with floodwaters.
    • Wash your hands with soap and disinfected water if you touch floodwaters. Floodwaters may carry raw sewage, chemical waste and other disease-spreading substances.
    • Stay away from downed power lines and electrical wires.Electric current passes easily through water. 
    • Do not try to swim to safety!
    • Do not drive, walk or swim through floodwaters. Remember: Turn Around, Don't Drown!
    • Look out for animals, especially snakes that may be seeking higher ground to avoid floodwaters.

If Directed To Evacuate:

  • Do not evacuate unless or until directed to do so by public safety officials.
  • When directed to evacuate, follow the instructions you are given by public safety officials. Heed their advice immediately.
  • Leave as soon as possible.
  • Bring your Emergency Kit.
  • Dress for the prevailing weather conditions, at minimum a long sleeve shirt, pants, and sturdy shoes.
  • Take your pets with you. Remember that pets (other than assistance animals for people with disabilities) are not permitted in emergency shelters. You must follow your plan to go to a friend's home or a pet-friendly hotel. Click here for tips.
  • Lock your home.
  • Use travel routes specified by local authorities - don't use shortcuts because certain areas may be impassable or dangerous.
  • Avoid flooded roads and washed-out bridges. Stay away from downed power lines.
  • If you are sure you'll have time:
    • Call your family contact to tell them where you are going and when you expect to arrive.
    • Shut off water and electricity before leaving, if instructed to do so. Leave natural gas service ON unless local officials advise you otherwise.
  • Listen to local authorities. They will provide you with the most accurate information specific to an event in your area. Stay tuned to local radio and television. A battery-powered radio is a vital part of your Emergency Kit.
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