You’re exploring a canyon when all of a sudden the air rumbles like a subwoofer. Then you see it: a wall of water churning with felled trees and boulders. And it’s headed your way. Here’s how to survive…

Know the area
Avoid this hair-raising situation by staying away from flood-prone zones that are in the path of natural drainage areas like riverbeds or canyons. If you’re on the coast, beware of storm surges during tropical storms and hurricanes.

High tail it to high ground
To escape a flash flood, leave everything behind and run for high ground as fast as you can. If the water starts to rise around you, climb a tree or scramble onto a large rock–anything that will get you higher.

Ride it out
If you end up in the flow, keep your head and upper body safe at all costs. Point your feet downstream and try to deflect–or better yet, steer clear of–obstructions like rocks and trees.

Get a grip
You won’t be able to fight the current, but you may be able to gradually work your way toward the edge of the flood so you can catch hold of a tree or bush and pull yourself out of the water.

Hole up at home
If a flash flood hits your house, arm yourself with essentials such as food, water, a battery-operated radio, and matches and candles and head for the upper floors. Unless your home’s foundation is threatened and is on the verge of collapse, stay put until the waters recede.

For more survival tips, check out Outdoor Life’s Ultimate Survival Manual.