Flood Preparedness and Response



Having an evacuation plan in place before a flood occurs can help avoid confusion and prevent injuries and property damage. A thorough evacuation plan should include:

  • Conditions that will activate the plan
  • Chain of command
  • Emergency functions and who will perform them
  • Specific evacuation procedures, including routes and exits
  • Procedures for accounting for personnel, customers and visitors
  • Equipment for personnel
  • Review the plan with workers
Warning Systems

Flood Watch: Flooding is possible. Monitor radio and television stations for more information.

Flash Flood Watch: Flash flooding is possible. Be prepared to move to higher ground; monitor radio and television stations for more information.

Flood Warning: Imminent threat - Flooding is occurring or will occur soon; if advised to evacuate, do so immediately.

Flash Flood Warning: Imminent threat - A flash flood is occurring or will occur soon; seek higher ground on foot immediately.

See OSHA's Evacuation Plans and Procedures eTool for more information.

Contact your local county geologist or county planning department to get information about whether your business or residence is in an area that is prone to flooding.

If you are located in an area that is susceptible to flooding, you should monitor NOAA Weather Radio or commercial radio or television stations for information about flood watches and warnings. The box on the left defines the terms commonly used in flood watches and warnings.

If you receive information about the possibility of flash flooding, be prepared to move to higher ground immediately. In all cases, you should be prepared to evacuate before water levels rise and potentially cut off evacuation routes.

Employers whose workers will be involved in emergency response operations for releases of, or substantial threats of releases of, hazardous substances regardless of the location of the hazard must comply with OSHA's Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) standard, 29 CFR 1910.120. This may include emergency response following an earthquake. Instruction CPL 02-02-073 describes OSHA enforcement procedures under the relevant provisions of the HAZWOPER standard.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has promulgated a standard applying OSHA's HAZWOPER standard to state and local government workers in states where there is no OSHA-approved State Plan. See 40 CFR Part 311.

OSHA's HAZWOPER Safety and Health Topics page explains requirements of the OSHA HAZWOPER standard, including required worker training.

Training and Exercises
  • Ensure that all workers know what to do in case of an emergency.
  • Practice evacuation plans on a regular basis.
  • Update plans and procedures based on lessons learned from exercises.
Additional Preparedness Guidance: