NOAA 2004-R254
Contact: Tracey Lake

NOAA News Releases 2004
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Now in its second successful year, the national Turn Around, Don't Drown™ (TADD) flood safety campaign continues to gain momentum. Launched May 21, 2003 as a joint effort by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Weather Service and the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, the TADD campaign is designed to enhance public awareness of the dangers of driving or walking into flooded areas. NOAA is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

“While the TADD campaign is gaining adherents and adding new partners, we still have a long way to go,” said retired Air Force Brig. Gen. David L. Johnson, director, National Weather Service. “Flooding kills more people each year than most major weather-related events and the tragic irony is that the vast majority of those deaths are easily preventable.”

Thirty-year NWS storm data records show that 3,192 people died in floods between 1974 and 2003, an average of 106 deaths per year. During the same period, lightning claimed 2,002 lives (67 per year), tornadoes killed 1,935 (65 per year) and hurricanes took 421 people (14 per year). The records also indicate 80 percent of the flooding deaths resulted when people drove or walked into moving water.

“It only takes six inches of moving water to sweep someone off their feet and 24 inches to float most vehicles,” said Bill Proenza, director, National Weather Service Southern Region. “People who walk or drive into moving water not only risk their own lives, but also the lives of those who try to rescue them.”

“We now have more than 60 Alliance partners actively supporting the TADD campaign and the list continues to grow,” said Leslie Chapman-Henderson, president and CEO of FLASH. “The more people we reach with this simple message, the greater our chances of reducing flood-related fatalities.”

In San Antonio, Texas at least 1,300 TADD stickers have been placed on fire, police, parks department and public works vehicles; 5,000 bumper stickers were ordered for distribution to citizens; and, 5,000 posters were created for display in San Antonio and more than 20 nearby communities.

The city has placed Turn Around, Don’t Drown™ signs at 10 low water crossing sites and is considering placing signs at additional sites. Other outreach opportunities are also being considered to help educate the public on the dangers of driving or walking through low water crossings.

In Alabama, 20,000 refrigerator magnets with the TADD logo and web page were purchased for public distribution by Alabama Power Company as part of a statewide FloodReady program. The result of a partnership between the NWS Weather Forecast Office in Birmingham and other federal and state agencies, FloodReady is designed to help local communities develop flood action plans.

Moore, Okla., Emergency Management Director Gayland Kitch has been struggling with a growing traffic count at a particularly dangerous low water crossing. “We typically place barricades closing the road when the water level reaches it, but the barricades are regularly ignored.” Moore now plans to place the TADD signs on the barricades in the hope that people will finally get the message.

WFO Honolulu Senior Service Hydrologist Kevin Kodama tells a story of two families who did get the message. Attending a flash flood safety awareness event in Hilo, Hawaii, the talk turned to a heavy rain event earlier this year. He said two families specifically mentioned the Turn Around, Don’t Drown™ message in their decision not to drive through roadways flooded by torrential rains on Jan. 23, 2004 – a decision that may have saved them from unnecessary injury or death.

While pleased with the first year’s progress, organizers are determined to press the campaign until Turn Around, Don’t Drown™ is the first thing people think of when confronted with dangerous floodwaters.

A colorful poster, a Turn Around, Don’t Drown™ sign, window sticker, FLASH card and a NWS flood safety brochure are all available on the Web: Visitors are encouraged to download, re-produce and distribute the images through community civic organizations, schools, government agencies or private businesses.

The National Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. The National Weather Service operates the most advanced weather and flood warning and forecast system in the world, helping to protect lives and property and enhance the national economy.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources.

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Turn Around, Don’t Drown™ is a Trademark used by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service.