Water is a life-sustaining force in this world, but it can also destroy property and take lives away. While some flooding is predictable, such as the flooding associated with a hurricane, other flooding occurs with little or no warning—like when a dam or levee fails. Memorize these five things to avoid during a flood so that the next time the water rises where you are, you’ll be able to make the right decisions and escape with your life.

Don’t Drive Through Flood Waters: Flooding is the chief cause of death associated with thunderstorms, accounting for more than 90 fatalities every year in the U.S. More than half of these losses occur when vehicles are driven into dangerous floodwaters, especially at night when visibility is hampered. Just two feet of fast-moving water can sweep away most vehicles, even SUVs and trucks. Never try to drive through flood waters. Turn around and find some other route, or find high ground and stay put.

Be Cautious at Crossings: Low bridges and similar crossings can flood in the blink of an eye in wet weather, particularly if a dam or levee breaks loose upstream. Take the time to stop and look upstream before attempting any crossings, then hurry across to safety.

Watch Your Step: Just six inches of rushing water can knock a person down and sweep him away. At eight pounds per gallon, even a small amount of rushing water delivers a great deal of force.

Wade Carefully: You might need to wade through water to escape a flooded house or vehicle, but take your time. The muddy water could conceal all types of dangerous debris and hazards. Broken glass, lumber studded with nails, and sharp pieces of metal are just a few of the things you might discover the hard way. Go slow and feel your way carefully.

Get Out Of Harm’s Way: We all love our homes and don’t want to leave them undefended. But other than throwing out a few sandbags, there is little we can do to save a dwelling doomed by rising water. The best way to deal with flooding is to evacuate before an expected event, and stay away until an all-clear is issued by local authorities.

Have you made it through a flood this year? Please share your story in the comments!

(photo via Wikipedia)