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Water Safety Tips

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OKLAHOMA CITY -- While you're strongly discouraged to get in the flood waters, what should you do if you do get swept away? Here are a few water safety tips offered by the Oklahoma City Fire Department.

- Never swim in unfamiliar waters

- Never swim in flood water

- Beware of strong currents in lakes, rivers, or flood water

- Beware of debris and under water obstructions in lakes, rivers, or flood water

- Parents need to encourage their children to stay out of flood water and creeks with rushing water

- Never drive into high water

- If your vehicle is trapped in high water:

o If safe to do so, exit the vehicle and head to high ground (If water is not flowing too rapidly)

o If you can't open a door, open a window and get on top of the vehicle

o Call for help and give a good description of your location, your vehicle, and yourself

- If you become trapped in swift water do the following:

o DON'T panic

o Float on your back if possible

o Go with the flow of the water, feet first

o Try to keep your legs raised out of the water (Less chance of getting hung up on debris)

o Try to slowly make your way to the bank, at an angle, by pointing your feet toward the bank (Will be too difficult to swim directly to the bank)

o Try to find a tree to hang on to

o Shout for help

- If someone is in trouble in the water, and you are safe to do so, you can try the following methods to attempt a rescue:

o Reach out to the person with a branch or long pole and pull them to the shore

o Throw a flotation device to the person

o Throw a rope to the person and pull them to shore

o NEVER go into the water to rescue someone, unless you are trained lifeguard or trained in water rescue techniques

o Shout to any bystanders to call 911, or if you are alone call 911

When returning to a home or business that was affected by flood water, please take the following precautions:

• Listen for news reports to learn whether the community's water supply is safe to drink.

• Avoid remaining floodwaters; water may be contaminated. Water may also be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines. Stay away from downed power lines, and report them to the power company.

• Avoid moving water. Parents should discourage their children from playing in creeks and drainage canals.

• Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded. Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car.

• Stay out of any building if it is still surrounded by floodwaters.

• Use extreme caution when entering buildings; there may be hidden damage, particularly in foundations.

• Service damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pits and leaching systems as soon as possible. Damaged sewage systems are serious health hazards.

• Clean and disinfect everything that got wet. Mud left from floodwater can be contaminated.

• Watch out for animals, especially poisonous snakes. Use a stick to poke through debris.

• If your power has been off for a lengthy period of time, throw out any food left in refrigerators or freezers.

• Eliminate standing water by pouring out stagnant water in birdbaths, pet dishes, old tires and any other receptacle in which mosquitoes might breed. This will greatly reduce mosquito populations and the risks of getting a mosquito-borne illness.

And most importantly, return home only when authorities indicate it is safe.

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