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Landslides FAQs - 22 Found

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What can I do to be prepared for a landslide?

Before a Landslide

•Avoid building near steep slopes, close to mountain edges, near drainage ways, or natural erosion valleys.

•Get a ground assessment of your property.

•Contact local officials, state geological surveys or departments of natural resources, and university departments of geology. Landslides occur where they have before, and in identifiable hazard locations. Ask for information on landslides in your area, specific information on areas vulnerable to landslides, and request a professional referral for a very detailed site analysis of your property, and corrective measures you can take, if necessary.

•Watch the patterns of storm-water drainage near your home, and note the places where runoff water converges, increasing flow in channels. These are areas to avoid during a storm.

•Learn about the emergency-response and evacuation plans for your area. Develop your own emergency plan for your family or business.

•Minimize home hazards:

  • Have flexible pipe fittings installed to avoid gas or water leaks, as flexible fittings are more resistant to breakage (only the gas company or professionals should install gas fittings).
  • Plant ground cover on slopes and build retaining walls.
  • In mudflow areas, build channels or deflection walls to direct the flow around buildings. Remember: If you build walls to divert debris flow and the flow lands on a neighbor's property, you may be liable for damages.
  • Design and construction of walls and channels strong enough to resist or divert landslides is highly specialized work, best done by qualified professionals.

During a Storm/Landslide

•Stay alert and awake. Many debris-flow fatalities occur when people are sleeping. Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or portable, battery-powered radio or television for warnings of intense rainfall. Be aware that intense, short bursts of rain may be particularly dangerous, especially after longer periods of heavy rainfall and damp weather.

•If you are in areas susceptible to landslides and debris flows, consider leaving if it is safe to do so. Remember that driving during an intense storm can be hazardous. If you remain at home, move to a second story if possible. Staying out of the path of a landslide or debris flow saves lives.

•Listen for any unusual sounds that might indicate moving debris, such as trees cracking or boulders knocking together. A trickle of flowing or falling mud or debris may precede larger landslides. Moving debris can flow quickly and sometimes without warning.

•If you are near a stream or channel, be alert for any sudden increase or decrease in water flow and for a change from clear to muddy water. Such changes may indicate landslide activity upstream, so be prepared to move quickly. Don't delay! Save yourself, not your belongings.

•Be especially alert when driving. Bridges may be washed out, and culverts overtopped. Do not cross flooding streams!! Turn Around, Don't Drown®! Embankments along roadsides are particularly susceptible to landslides. Watch the road for collapsed pavement, mud, fallen rocks, and other indications of possible debris flows.

•Be aware that strong shaking from earthquakes can induce or intensify the effects of landslides.

What to Do if You Suspect Imminent Landslide Danger

•Contact your local fire, police, or public works department. Local officials are the best persons able to assess potential danger. Dialing 911 may be the quickest way to get help and/or advice.

•Inform affected neighbors. Your neighbors may not be aware of potential hazards. Advising them of a potential threat may help save lives. Help neighbors who may need assistance to evacuate.

•Evacuate. Getting out of the path of a landslide or debris flow is your best protection.

Learn more:

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Web site

American Red Cross Landslide Safety Checklist

Tags: Landslides, Water