American Red Cross offers flood safety information

RAPID CITY, S.D. — The American Red Cross is issuing flood safety steps for those who may be affected by possible major or moderate flooding across the Dakotas this spring.

Everyone in your family needs to know what to do if a flood watch or warning is issued and should know the difference between a watch and a warning. A watch means that a flood or flash flood is possible in your area, while a warning means that flooding/flash flooding is already occurring or will occur soon in your area.

To prepare for a flood, the Red Cross has a list of items you should include in an emergency kit, including:

  • Water: one gallon per person, per day (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
  • Food: nonperishable, easy-to-prepare items (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home).
  • Flashlight
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
  • Extra batteries
  • Deluxe family first aid kit
  • Medications (7-day supply) and medical items
  • Multipurpose tool
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items
  • Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
  • Cellphone with chargers
  • Family and emergency contact information
  • Extra cash
  • Emergency blanket
  • Map(s) of the area

If a watch or warning is issued, listen to local radio, NOAA radio or TV stations for the latest information and updates. Be prepared to evacuate quickly if directed and know the routs and destination you need. If you need a shelter, they can be found by visiting or by calling 1-800-733-2767 (1-800-REDCROS).

During a flood, there are things to consider if you stay at your home. It is important to boil tap water until it has been declared safe to drink. Officials may direct you to turn off power and water mains in your home if you are not evacuated.

If you are attempting to leave your home during a flood, avoid flooded areas and areas that are subject to sudden flooding such as dips and low spots. Avoid areas near streams, rivers, creeks and storm drains.

Do not attempt to cross flowing streams or water covered roads. The National Weather Service reports that nearly half of all flood fatalities are vehicle related.

If caught in a flash flood, try to get to higher ground and stay there. Just six inches of fast-flowing water can knock you over and two feet will float a car.

When a flood has subsided it is important to take pictures and document any and all damage to your home. You should contact your insurance company as soon as possible to make a claim and see what is covered in your plan.

You and your family should avoid contact with the floodwater as it may be contaminated with sewage. For this reason, any food that came into contact with floodwater needs to be disposed of.

Do not use any gas or electrical appliances that have been flooded until they have been checked for safe use.

For post-flood cleanup, the South Dakota Department of Health recommends bleach as your go-to tool. To clean food preparation surfaces like counters or plates mix one teaspoon of bleach in one gallon of water. Wooden cutting boards that came in contact with floodwater should be thrown away, as well as any baby bottle nipples and pacifiers.

For other household surfaces and items that have been touched by floodwater mix one cup of bleach in five gallons of water. If you need to clean mold growth off hard surfaces, bump up the ratio to one cup of bleach in one gallon of water.

For hard surfaces that have mold growth, mix one cup of bleach with one gallon of water. It is important to protect yourself with masks, gloves and eye protection when cleaning your home after a flood.

The Red Cross Emergency App and First Aid App can be downloaded for free in app stores. More safety information from the American Red Cross can be found by clicking here.

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News