During a Flood Watch or Warning

  • Monitor National Weather Service and access other sites for predictions of changing conditions (
  • National Weather Service: Western Region Headquarters (
  • CDC: Water-related Diseases, Contaminants, and Injuries By Type (
  • Division of Traffic Operations: Road Information: CA Highway Information (
  • Watch and or listen to local news to catch updates on the status of flood conditions.
  • Prepare to activate your emergency evacuation plan.
  • Turn off all utilities at the main power switch and close the main gas valve if evacuation appears necessary. 
  • Bring outdoor possessions, such as lawn furniture, grills and trash cans inside or tie them down securely. 
  • Fill your vehicle’s gas tank and make sure the emergency kit for your car is ready. 
  • If no vehicle is available, make arrangements with your emergency transportation providers or local authorities. 
  • Listen for disaster sirens and warning signals. 
  • Adjust the thermostat on refrigerators and freezers to the coolest possible temperature.

If You Are Ordered to Evacuate:

You should never ignore an evacuation order.  Authorities will direct you to leave if you are in a low-lying area, or within the greatest potential path of the rising waters.  If a flood warning is issued for your area or you are directed by authorities to evacuate the area:

  • Take only essential items with you.
  • If you have time, turn off the gas, electricity and water.
  • Disconnect appliances to prevent electrical shock when power is restored.
  • Follow the designated evacuation routes and expect heavy traffic.
  • Do not attempt to drive or walk across creeks or flooded roads.  

If You Are Ordered NOT to Evacuate: 

Flood Recovery - How to Avoid Illness
Always wash your hands with soap and water that has been boiled or disinfected before preparing or eating food, after toilet use, after participating in flood cleanup activities and after handling articles contaminated with flood water or sewage.  If you receive a puncture wound contaminated with feces, soil or saliva, ask a doctor or health department whether a tetanus booster is necessary.

How to Make Sure Your Food is Safe
To be safe, remember, “when in doubt, throw it out.”  Discard any refrigerated or frozen food that has been at room temperature for two hours or more and any food that has an unusual odor, color or texture.  Do not use any fresh foods or can foods that come in contact with flood waters.

How to Make Sure Your Water is Safe
Listen for public announcements on the safety of the municipal water supply.  Flooded, private water wells will need to be tested and disinfected after flood waters recede.  Questions about testing should be directed to your local health department.

Safe water for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene includes bottled, boiled or treated water.  Your local health department can make specific recommendations for boiling or treating water in your area.  Remember these general rules concerning water for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene.

  • Do not use contaminated water. You can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to wash your hands. 
  • If you use bottled water, be sure it came from a safe source. If you do not know that the water came from a safe source, you should boil or treat it before you use it. Use only bottled, boiled or treated water until your supply is tested and found safe.
  • Boiling water, when practical, is the preferred way to kill harmful bacteria and parasites. Bringing water to a rolling boil for one minute will kill most organisms. 
  • When boiling water is not practical, you can treat water with chlorine tablets, iodine tablets or unscented household chlorine bleach (5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite).
  • If you use chlorine tablets or iodine tablets, follow the directions that come with the tablets.
  • If you use household chlorine bleach, add 1/8 teaspoon (~0.75 mL) of bleach per gallon of water if the water is clear. For cloudy water, add ¼ teaspoon (~1.50 mL) of bleach per gallon. Mix the solution thoroughly and let it stand for about 30 minutes before using it.

Note: Treating water with chlorine tablets, iodine tablets or liquid bleach will not kill parasitic organisms. 
Use a bleach solution to rinse water containers before reusing them.  Use water storage tanks and other types of containers with caution.  For example, fire truck storage tanks and previously used cans or bottles may be contaminated with microbes or chemicals. 

How to Deal With Chemical Hazards
Be aware of potential chemical hazards you may encounter during flood recovery.  Flood waters may have buried or moved hazardous chemical containers of solvents or other industrial chemicals from their normal storage places.  If any propane tanks (whether 20-lb. tanks from a gas grill or household propane tanks) are discovered, do not attempt to move them yourself.  These represent a very real danger of fire or explosion, and if any are found, police or fire departments or your State Fire Marshal’s office should be contacted immediately.  Car batteries, even those in flood water, may still contain an electrical charge and should be removed with extreme caution by using insulated gloves.  Avoid coming in contact with any acid that may have spilled from a damaged car battery.

How to Deal with Electric and Gas Utilities
Electrical power and natural gas or propane tanks should be shut off to avoid fire, electrocution or explosions until it is safe to use them.  Use battery-powered flashlights and lanterns, rather than candles, gas lanterns or torches.  If you smell gas or suspect a leak, turn off the main gas valve, open all windows and leave the house immediately.  Notify the gas company or the police or fire departments or State Fire Marshal’s office, and do not turn on the lights or do anything that could cause a spark.  Avoid any downed power lines, particularly those in water.  All electrical equipment and appliances must be completely dry before using them.  You should have a certified electrician check these items if there is any question.  Also, remember not to operate any gas-powered equipment indoors.

How to Clean Up
Walls, hard-surfaced floors and many other household surfaces should be cleaned with soap and water and disinfected with a solution of 1 cup of bleach to five gallons of water.  Wash all linens and clothing in hot water, or dry clean them.  For items that cannot be washed or dry cleaned, such as mattresses and upholstered furniture, air dry them in the sun and then spray them thoroughly with a disinfectant.  Steam clean all carpeting.  If there has been a back-flow of sewage into the house, wear rubber boots and waterproof gloves during cleanup.  Remove and discard contaminated household materials that cannot be disinfected, such as wall coverings, cloth, rugs and drywall.

Information adapted from the

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Source info:




CAHF's Ready Set Go Fact Sheet: Flood (pdf)



According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): Before a Dam Failure, knowing your risk, making sure an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) is in place, and evacuating when directed by emergency response officials are the most important steps you can take to staying safe from a dam failure. 

Ways to Plan Ahead

Know your risk. Do you live downstream from a dam? Is the dam a high-hazard or significant-hazard potential dam? To find out, contact your state or county emergency management agency or visit the National Inventory of Dams (NID) or the Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO).

Find out who owns the dam and who regulates the dam. This information also should be available from your state or county emergency management agency, NID, or ASDSO.

Once you determine that you live downstream from a high-hazard or significant-hazard potential dam and find out who owns the dam, see if a current EAP is in place for the dam. An EAP is a formal document that identifies potential emergency conditions at a dam and specifies pre-planned actions to be followed to reduce property damage and loss of life. An EAP specifies actions the dam owner should take to take care of problems at the dam. It also includes steps to assist the dam owner in issuing early warning and notification messages to responsible downstream emergency management authorities of the emergency.

If there is a dam failure or an imminent dam failure and you need to evacuate, know your evacuation route and get out of harm's way. In general, evacuation planning and implementation are the responsibility of the state and local officials responsible for your safety. However, there may be situations where recreational facilities, campgrounds, or residences are located below a dam and local authorities will not be able to issue a timely warning. In this case, the dam owner should coordinate with local emergency management officials to determine who will warn you and in what priority.

For more information visit
FEMA's suggested website.


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