According to the National Weather Service, a flash flood is defined as a rapid rise in water that occurs in a short period of time after heavy rainfall or a dam or levee failure.

NWS and first responders stress situational awareness -- paying close attention to your surroundings -- as the best way to avoid a potentially life-threatening situation.

If you find yourself near a flash flood, do not cross the flood and get as far away as possible. To escape flash flooding, get to higher ground.

Just six inches of moving water can knock someone off their feet and 18 to 24 inches of water can sweep a vehicle away.

The National Weather Service has these additional tips:

• Use extra caution at night: About 75 percent of fatalities occur after dark when it is more difficult to recognize the dangers of flooding.

• Stay alert to the dangers of flash flooding when hiking in canyons. Even if it is not raining where you are, flash flooding can develop from distant showers or thunderstorms

• Never camp in a dry wash

• Change your plans if storms threaten

• Consult with land management agencies on flash flood hazards in the area