Due to improvements in warning systems and extreme weather occurring more frequently, it’s understandable if some people take hazardous weather announcements less seriously these days.

Despite this, taking weather warnings, watches or advisories to heart can save lives and prevent loss of property.

Particularly in the case of flash floods, it’s best to err on the side of caution. The National Weather Service provided some tips for doing just that.

Whether it’s identifying a specific person to contact for status updates or a safe location to meet up with family members, have a plan in place.

Have enough food, water and medicine for at least three days on hand. Water service may be interrupted or unsafe to drink and food requiring little cooking and no refrigeration may be needed. Have batteries, blankets, flashlights, first aid kit, rubber boots, rubber gloves and a weather radio.

Is your home or business in a floodplain? Where is water likely to collect on roads you most often travel? What is the fastest way to get to higher ground? Knowing answers to these questions ahead of time can save lives.

Sandbags or other materials can protect a home or business from floodwaters if time allows, but have them ready in advance because it takes longer to fill sandbags than many people think.

Have a professional install check-valves in plumbing to prevent floodwaters from backing up into the drains of a home or business. Be sure sump pumps are working and consider having a backup. Make sure electric circuit breakers or fuses are clearly marked for each area.

Standard homeowners’ insurance doesn’t cover flooding, so look into buying flood insurance. Do it well before flooding is possible since insurance companies stop issuing policies if there is a threat of flooding. Many flood insurance policies take at least 30 days to go into effect.

Know the difference between a flash flood warning, flood warning, flood watch and a flood advisory and take these seriously.

A flash flood warning is issued when a flash flood is imminent or occurring. Move immediately from flood prone areas to higher ground. Flash floods can occur within minutes, even if it isn’t immediately raining.

A flood warning is issued when a hazardous weather event is imminent or already happening. A flood watch is issued when conditions are favorable for flooding. It doesn’t mean flooding will occur, but it’s possible. A flood advisory is issued when flooding isn’t expected to necessitate a warning, but may cause significant inconvenience and could lead to situations that threaten life and/or property if caution isn’t exercised.

Don’t repeat the oft-made mistake of underestimating the unpredictable power of floodwaters. Your life and the lives of loved ones may depend on using good judgment.

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