Flash floods are nothing to joke about, no matter the season. After seeing news of tragedies like the fatal flood that occurred in Arizona this week, it’s natural to wonder: What is the proper safety procedure for a natural phenomenon that seemingly comes from nowhere?
This weekend about 30 miles away from where we were hiking there was a flash flood that killed 9 people, 1 still missing and others injured. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those families who lost their loved ones. Such a sad and scary event. Adventuring is wonderful but comes with real risks, it has reminded us to make sure and take all the precautions possible to stay safe out there. ❤️ • • • • • • • #flashflood #paysonaz #optoutside #expandyourplayground #outdoorphotography #enjoynature #getoutside #getoutdoors #adventure #arizona_landscapes #arizona #hikearizona #arizonahikingadventures #camparizona #az #arizonaphotography #Arizona_photolife #arizonahighways #seearizona #arizonaadventures #HAZ #ArizonaIsGorgeous #instagramaz #arizonahiking #staysafe #safety
The first step in preventing accidents in flash flood zones is to understand what a flash flood really is, why it occurs and what you can do to minimize damage and risk when caught in the midst of one.
A flash flood, according to The National Severe Storms Laboratory, is the most dangerous kind of flood and can “occur when excessive water fills normally dry creeks or river beds along with currently flowing creeks and rivers, causing rapid rises of water in a short amount of time.”
This can be caused by multiple things: snowcaps melting, heavy rains falling or when dams/levees break, among many more.
Flash floods are dangerous not only because of their size and intensity, but also because of the speed at which they travel. They often arrive without any warning, and they last only about five minutes, leaving those nearby without much time to react.
Floods are not limited to one region and occur all across the U.S. Many people may think that flooding occurs primarily during rainy, wetter seasons, but flooding is not specific to any season, making summer months equally dangerous.
To minimize damage and increase safety, it’s important to take into account what your surrounding environment is composed of. For example, if you are camping in a narrow canyon, pay attention to any previous signs of flooding, and camp high above the canyon floor.
A good rule to keep in mind: As high as you think you need to be to avoid a flood, go at least twice that height. It’s always important to exercise extreme caution.
A few other safety tips include: Never attempt to cross a flooded road, even if it looks like just a few inches of water, and always avoid low ground, as well as other areas that may be subject to flooding.
If you don’t know whether the area you will be camping or hiking in is subject to flooding, research it beforehand. Also, be especially cautious at night. Flash flooding accidents primarily occur at night, when campers are sleeping and have their guards down.
The bottom line when it comes to flash floods: Do your research about camping and hiking areas before visiting, stick to the highest ground possible and never try to cross a flooded area, either by foot or vehicle.
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