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Take steps to avoid danger of flash floods

 This year has brought a lot of rain to Boulder City, including a storm Monday that brought some wind, too. Although we don’t have a lot of flash flood problems in Boulder City, there are many more challenges for those of us who venture down into the valley. 

The hard-packed soil of the Mojave Desert provides little water seepage. Gathering water on the surface, even from the smallest of rain showers, can cause flash flooding.

Small trickles of water down drainage ditches, streets, canyons and creeks can turn into a raging torrent of water in minutes. According to the National Weather Service, six inches of fast-moving floodwater can knock someone off his or her feet.

The weather service said in 2005 that an average of more than 125 people die yearly in floods, more than by lightning, tornadoes or hurricanes.

Most flash floods in this area are caused by slow-moving thunderstorms. These floods can develop within minutes or hours depending on the intensity and duration of the rain, the topography, soil conditions and ground cover.

These suggestions from the Boulder City Fire Department can help keep you safe.

n Always be alert to radio and television flash flood warnings and reports. This is especially important when hiking or camping in desert canyons.

 n  Never camp on low ground and be wary of cloud formations that indicate showers.

n Be prepared to move out of harm’s way quickly. Again, flash floods strike at a moment’s notice.

n Do not attempt to cross a flowing stream on foot. Six inches of flowing water can knock people off their feet.

n Do not drive into flooded areas. Abandon your car immediately if it stalls in flood conditions.

n If leaving your car is not an option because of conditions, climb to the roof and yell for help.

n Do not try to outrun the flood.

n Do not let children play in or near the water.

Regular fire columnist Brian Shea is on vacation. This is an updated version of a column that ran July 5, 2012. Bill Wilson is a retired Boulder City firefighter. If you have further questions about this or any fire safety issue, contact the Boulder City Fire Department at 702-293-9228.

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