PENNSYLVANIA'S #1 WEEKLY NEWSPAPER • locally owned since 1854

Taking safety steps key in floods: Editorial

Posted 8/1/18

You can’t prevent flooding. But you can take steps to stay safe.

And it’s important to do so.

Don’t ignore the warnings when they come. If you live in an area prone to …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Taking safety steps key in floods: Editorial


You can’t prevent flooding. But you can take steps to stay safe.

And it’s important to do so.

Don’t ignore the warnings when they come. If you live in an area prone to flooding then you have to be ready.

We know the stress that comes with watching the weather forecasts and worrying about the rising waters around you if you live in certain areas. And as much as we like to joke about meteorologists being wrong, they are more often that not on target.

Read what Leon Merlin said, on the front page of today’s Press & Journal. When he moved to the trailer park near Swatara Park Road about a year ago, he was warned that it often flooded. When Merlin saw the water rising last week, he said he knew he had to leave.

“You’re in a flood zone. So go,” he said.

Yes, go.

Don’t put your life in danger. Don’t risk the lives of others who might be forced to rescue you.

Take precautions. Be ready. And go if need be.

No one wants to return to a home that is in significantly worse shape than when you left it. But belongings can be replaced, and your life cannot.

A reminder that a warning is more serious than a watch. According to the National Weather Service, a flash flood warning is issued “when a flash flood is imminent or occurring. If you are in a flood prone area move immediately to high ground. A flash flood is a sudden violent flood that can take from minutes to hours to develop. It is even possible to experience a flash flood in areas not immediately receiving rain.” A flood warning is issued “when the hazardous weather event is imminent or already happening. A flood warning is issued when flooding is imminent or occurring.”

We mourn the death of 19-year-old Laura Olweiler in Conewago Township. She went missing on July 24 after she got swept away while trying to cross the Conewago Creek in the 500 block of Koser Road with a 22-year-old relative. Her body was found Friday. While tragic, the river was swollen, and the attempt to cross it was quite hazardous. Thank God her relative survived after grabbing a log until a neighbor heard her cries for help and rescued her.

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission encouraged homeowners and businesses affected by flooding across the state to consider the following utility-related safety tips as they begin clean-up and recovery:

• Avoid downed utility lines, along with flooded homes or businesses — submerged wires, power outlets or appliances may energize standing water.

• Do not touch electric panels, outlets or appliances if you are wet or standing in water.

• If your basement floods, do not enter unless you are sure the water is not in contact with a source of electricity. Call a qualified electrician to disconnect the power before you enter a flooded basement.

• Utilities will inspect flooded areas and will assess when it is safe to restore service to their systems — but homeowners and businesses should work with licensed electricians regarding repairs to customer-owned lines and appliances. 

• If the utility removed your electric meter and cut power to your home due to flooding, the utility may require you to have your system inspected by a licensed electrician before it restores power (contact your utility for any clarification).

• Do not attempt to plug in or turn on any water-damaged appliances until they have been inspected by a qualified electrician and determined to be safe.

• Consult professionals regarding the need to repair or replace any water-damaged devices.

• If you are outside a building and you smell gas, do not enter the building. Call 9-1-1 and your gas company from a safe location.

• If you are inside a building and you smell gas, leave immediately. Call 9-1-1 and your gas company from a safe location.

• If your home or business has flooded and any of your natural gas appliances (including furnaces, boilers, water heaters and dryers) have been affected, contact a licensed professional to clean, repair and test all appliances and pipes.

• Do not attempt to restart natural gas appliances yourself — contact a professional.

• If flood waters rose above your gas meter and regulator, contact your gas utility to inspect those systems before use.

Dauphin County officials offered some tips to stay safe during a flood.

• Listen to the weather on the radio for forecasts.

• If the area is flooded, go to higher ground.

• Never drive through flooded roads because the road under the water could be damaged, and 2 feet of water can carry away a vehicle.

• Don’t try to cross flowing streams by foot.

• If your vehicle stalls, get out and go to higher ground.

We hope it’s a long time before we have significant flooding such as we had last week. But it is essential to be prepared.