JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Flooding is a major concern with Tropical Strom Beryl. The Red Cross offers these safety tips for residents in flood-prone areas.

  • Fill bathtubs, sinks, and plastic bottles with clean water. Water may become contaminated or service may be interrupted.
  • Bring outdoor belongings, such as patio furniture, indoors.
  • Unsecured items may be swept away and damaged by flood waters.
  • Move your furniture and valuables to higher floors of your home. If flood waters affect your home, higher floors are less likely to receive damage.
  • If you are instructed by local authorities, turn off all utilities at the main power switch and close the main gas valve. In some areas, local authorities may advise you to turn off utilities to prevent further damage to homes and the community.
  • Get your preassembled disaster supplies ready. You may need to act quickly. Having your supplies ready will save time.
  • Fill your car's gas tank, in case an evacuation notice is issued. If electric power is cut off, gas stations may not be able to operate pumps for several days.
  • Be prepared to evacuate. Local officials may ask you to leave if they truly feel your home is at risk from flood waters.

What to tell children:

  • If you come upon flood waters, stop, turn around, and go another way. Climb to higher ground. If it is moving swiftly, even water six inches deep can knock you off your feet. Many people are swept away wading through flood waters, resulting in injury or death.
  • Stay away from flooded areas. Even if it seems safe, flood waters may still be rising.
  • Never try to walk, swim, drive, or play in flood water. You may not be able to see on the surface how fast flood water is moving or see holes and submerged debris.
  • If you are in a vehicle and become surrounded by water, if you can get out safely, do so immediately and move to higher ground. Vehicles can be swept away in two feet of water.
  • Watch out for snakes in areas that were flooded. Flood waters flush snakes from their homes.
  • Stay away from creek and stream banks in flooded and recently flooded areas. The soaked banks often become unstable due to heavy rainfall and can suddenly give way, tossing you into rapidly moving water.
  • Never play around high water, storm drains, ditches, ravines, or culverts. It is very easy to be swept away by fast moving water.
  • Throw away all food that has come into contact with flood waters.
  • Contaminated flood water contains bacteria and germs. Eating foods exposed to flood waters can make you very sick.

What to do if you are driving during a flood:

  • Avoid already flooded areas, and areas subject to sudden flooding. Do not attempt to cross flowing streams. Most flood fatalities are caused by people attempting to drive through water, or people playing in high water. The depth of water is not always obvious. The roadbed may be washed out under the water, and you could be stranded or trapped. Rapidly rising water may stall the engine, engulf the vehicle and its occupants, and sweep them away. Look out for flooding at highway dips, bridges, and low areas. Two feet of water will carry away most automobiles.
  • If you are driving and come upon rapidly rising waters, turn around and find another route. Move to higher ground away from rivers, streams, creeks, and storm drains. If your route is blocked by flood waters or barricades, find another route. Barricades are put up by local officials to protect people from unsafe roads. Driving around them can be a serious risk.
  • If your vehicle becomes surrounded by water or the engine stalls, and if you can safely get out, abandon your vehicle immediately and climb to higher ground. Many deaths have resulted from attempts to move stalled vehicles. When a vehicle stalls in the water, the water's momentum is transferred to the car. The lateral force of a foot of water moving at 10 miles per hour is about 500 pounds on the average automobile. The greatest effect is buoyancy--for every foot that water rises up the side of a car, it displaces 1,500 pounds of the car's weight. So, two feet of water moving at 10 miles per hour will float virtually any car. Many persons have been swept away by flood waters upon leaving their vehicles, which are later found without much damage. Use caution when abandoning your vehicle, and look for an opportunity to move away quickly and safely to higher ground.