A header icon depicting flooding, along with the page title, "Flooding: Know the Hazards"

​Floods are one of the most common hazards in the United States and in Maryland. While some floods develop slowly, others can develop within a few minutes. Flooding can occur no matter where you live, commonly occurring in low-lying areas, near water, behind a levee, or downstream from a dam. Even very small streams, gullies, creeks, culverts, dry streambeds, or low-lying ground can flood. There is no such thing as a “flood proof” area; any area can flood, even high ground. If you are faced with a flooding situation take the following precautions:

Before​ an Emergency

  • Build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
  • Contact your local emergency manager to see if your home sits in a flood plain. I fyour home sits in a floodplain consider elevating and reinforcing your home.
  • Make sure your insurance policy covers flooding. Even renters are eligible for flood insurance.
  • Elevate the furnace, water heater, and electric panel in your home if you live in an area that has a high flood risk.
  • Consider installing "check valves" to prevent flood water from backing up into the drains of your home.
  • If feasible, construct barriers to stop floodwater from entering the building and seal walls in basements with waterproofing compounds.

During an Emergency

  • Listen to the radio or local news for information.
  • If you have time, bring in outdoor furniture. Move essential items to an upper floor.
  • Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can make you fall. If you have to walk in water, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
  • Do not drive into flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely. You and the vehicle can be swept away quickly.

After an Emergency​

  • Avoid floodwaters; water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline or raw sewage.
  • Service damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pits, and leaching systems, can pose serious health hazards if not fixed properly.
  • Follow your local news and emergency personnel's instructions regarding safe water consumption.
  • Clean and disinfect everything that got wet. Mud left from floodwaters can contain sewage and chemicals.
  • Use extreme caution when entering buildings; there may be hidden damage, particularly in foundations.
  • Remember, floodwaters sometimes take days to rise, even when the sun is shining. It can take days for floodwaters to make their way downstream. Don't underestimate the power and speed in which flood waters can rise and destroy everything in its path.

Flood-Related Resources