Floods, especially flash flooding is one of the most common and hazardous weather disasters in the world. Floods cause power outages, damage to infrastructure, landslides, and can be devastating in more ways than one.
Why do floods occur? Flooding occurs most commonly from heavy rainfall when natural watercourses/canals do not have the capacity to carry excess water. This is the same reason floods are a common occurrence during Monsoon. However, in coastal areas floods can be caused by a storm surge as a result of a tropical cyclone, a tsunami or a high tide coinciding with higher than normal river levels.
Given the current flooding situation in parts (Maharashtra, Kerala and north Karnataka) of India – where heavy rains have caused floods and flash floods along and other parts being issued with a Red alert as the situation has worsened, It is important to be prepared in case the place you or a loved one reside at is affected by heavy rains.
Here are a few safety tips to help you be prepared before, during and after flooding
Before a Flood (when your area has been issued with a Red alert)
- Monitor your surroundings.
- Monitor the weather forecast and keep yourself updated about the situation by either listening to the radio or watching TV
If a flash flood warning is issued for your area: Climb to safety immediately.
- Flash floods develop quickly. Do not wait for instructions to move or until you see rising water for yourself.
- Get out of low areas subject to flooding.
- If driving, do not drive through flooded roadways!
Assemble disaster supplies:
- Drinking water – Fill clean containers.
- Food that requires no refrigeration or cooking.
- Money in cash.
- Medications and first aid supplies.
- Clothing, toiletries.
- Battery-powered radio.
- Extra batteries.
- Important documents: insurance papers, medical records, property deeds, passports, bank account details, etc, in a waterproof plastic pouch.
Be prepared to evacuate
- Identify places to go.
- Identify alternative travel routes that are not prone to flooding.
- Plan what to do with your pets.
- Fuel your vehicle.
- If told to leave, do so quickly.
Review your Family Disaster Plan
- Discuss flood plans with your family.
- Decide where you will meet if separated.
- Designate a contact person who can be reached if family members get separated. Make sure every family member has the contact information.
Protect your property
- Move valuables and furniture to higher levels if possible.
- Move hazardous materials (such as paint, oil, pesticides, and cleaning supplies) to higher locations.
- Disconnect electrical appliances. Do not touch them if you are wet or standing in water.
- Bring outside possessions indoors or tie them down securely. This includes lawn furniture, garbage cans, and other movable objects.
During a Flood
Walking in a flood
- Do not walk through flooded areas. It can be difficult to tell how deep the water is and what lies underneath the water that could hurt you. Even shallow and moving water can make you fall.
- If you have to walk in water, wherever possible, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
- Avoid low spots, like basements and underpasses. They become extremely dangerous during a flash flood.
- Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.
Driving in a flood
- Do not drive into flooded areas, but if you end up doing that for some reason and you see floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground – only if you can do so safely.
- Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars causing loss of control and possible stalling.
- Twelve inches of water is enough to float many vehicles.
- Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles, including sport utility vehicles (SUV’s) and pick-ups.
After a Flood
Recovering from a flood requires extreme care. After a flood, be sure to:
- Find out if the water supply is safe to drink before consuming water.
- Avoid floodwaters, as they may be contaminated. Also, avoid moving water.
- Driving is especially hazardous after a flood. Do not drive through flood waters or in areas where the water may have receded. Areas where the water has receded, can be fragile and can easily collapse under the weight of your vehicle.
- Only return home after authorities have instructed you to do so.
- Do not enter a building surrounded by floodwaters.
- Be very careful when entering a building damaged by floodwaters, as hidden damage is likely and can be extremely dangerous.
- Be sure to repair damaged sewage systems, as these can cause serious health risks.
- Clean and disinfect everything that got wet during the flood because flood waters may be contaminated.