The American Red Cross encourages families and individuals get prepared during Flood Safety Awareness Week which runs March 15 through March 21. Floods are among the most frequent and costly natural disasters. According to the National Weather Service, flooding caused more than $2 billion in damage in 2013.

Flooding is a nationwide threat. Conditions that cause floods include heavy or steady rain for several hours or days that saturate the ground. However, flash floods occur suddenly due to rapidly rising water along a stream or low-lying area.

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Know the difference between a watch and a warning.

It is important to know the difference between a flood watch and a flood warning. You will likely hear weather forecasters use these terms when floods are predicted in your community:

  • Flood/Flash Flood Watch—Flooding or flash flooding is possible in your area.
  • Flood/Flash Flood Warning—Flooding or flash flooding is already occurring or will occur soon in your area.
  • Download the Flood App today.

    Download the Red Cross Flood App to have step-by-step instructions on what to do if flooding threatens, even if the cell towers and television are out. Find Red Cross shelters and know what to pack in your family emergency kit. This Red Cross app and more can be found in your app store by searching for American Red Cross.

    Related: Disaster Preparedness? There's an App for That 

    Now is the time to make a disaster kit.

    Purchase a Red Cross emergency preparedness kit or make one yourself with the items below. You’ll be better prepared to withstand a flood if you have the following supplies available – packed and ready to go in case you need to evacuate your home.

  • Water—at least a 3-day supply; one gallon per person per day
  • Food—at least a 3-day supply of non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food
  • Flashlight
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible) 
  • Extra batteries
  • First Aid kit 
  • Medications and medical items
  • Copies of personal documents
  • Cell phone with chargers
  • Extra cash
  • Emergency blanket
  • Related:   5 Simple Ways to Prepare for an Emergency