Flood safety tips: what to do before, after and during a flood

Flood safety tips: what to do before, after and during a flood
Nobody can stop a force as fearsome as a flood. Floods damage or destroy more homes than any other natural disaster.

In Pakistan, unprecedented monsoon rains flooding of the Indus river, starting in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, spreading South through Punjab, Balochistan and Sindh affecting thousands of people.

This year the country is experiencing the most powerful spell of monsoon rains that has affected Karachi the most resulted in urban flooding. Even in other parts of country including KP’s Swat, Kalam.

In Punjab, River Chenab is in high flood level at Head Marala near Sialkot with water inflow recorded at 293,000 cusecs.

Here are some safety tips to prepare for rising water and what to do once a flood has begun.

Urban Flooding: What to do and what to avoid?

·       If your area is likely to be hit by flood, listen to the radio or television for information.

·       Seal walls in basements with waterproofing compounds to avoid seepage.

·       If the waters start to rise in your home, retreat to the second floor or the rooftop.

·       In case of evacuation, turn off utilities at the main switches and disconnect electrical appliances.

·       Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.

·       Do not walk through moving water as even merely 6 inches of moving water can make you fall.

·       Don't try to swim through fast flowing water as you may get swept away or struck by an object in the water.

·       If you have to walk in water, wherever possible, walk where the water is still.

·       Most important is to use a pole or stick to check the firmness of the ground and also to ensure that you do not step into deep water, open manholes or ditches.

·       Avoid driving into flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground or seek help

·       Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded. Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car.

·       Be aware of streams, drainage channels, canyons, and other areas known to flood suddenly. Flash floods can occur in these areas with or without such typical warnings as rain clouds or heavy rain.

·       Stay away from downed power lines, and report them to the power company.

·       Don't try to swim through fast flowing water - you may get swept away or struck by an object in the water.

·       Keep essential medicines, battery operated torch, dry clothes, some food and drinking water ready. Most important is to do your research on what is essential in case of emergency.

·       Avoid contact with flood water; it may be contaminated with sewage, oil, chemicals and other harmful substances.

·       Return home only when authorities indicate it is safe.

·       Don’t reconnect your power supply until a qualified engineer has checked it.

·       Look before you step into your place after a flood, the ground and floors are often covered with debris, which may include broken bottles, sharp objects, nails etc. Floors and stairs covered with mud and debris can be slippery.

·       Do not eat any leftover food in your house.

Rural Flooding: What to do and what to avoid?

·       As soon as monsoon starts, switch on radio to listen to relevant information.

·       Construct barriers (levees, beams, floodwalls) to stop floodwater from entering your home.

·       If advised to evacuate your home, do so immediately.

·       Don't allow children to play near high water, storm drains or ditches. Hidden dangers could lie beneath the water.

·       Assemble supplies, such as water and food, that don't require refrigeration or cooking. Have a battery-powered flashlight and radio, plus extra batteries in case the electricity goes off.

·       Move motors and portable electric equipment to a dry location if possible.

·       Move all the machinery, feed, grain, fuel and agricultural chemicals, such as pesticides and herbicides, to higher ground.

·       Turn off electrical power to all the tube wells

·       Move livestock to higher ground and be sure you have access to feed.

·       If you have dairy cattle, develop plans for moving your cows to temporary milking facilities

·       If your septic system's drain field may be flooded or saturated, plug all basement drains and drastically reduce water use in the house.

·       Identify large tanks with your name and address so they can be returned if they become displaced.

·       Take dry clothing and flashlight and a portable radio with you and wait for help.

·       Don't swim through fast flowing water - you may get swept away or struck by an object in the water.

·       Don’t eat any food that has come into contact with flood water.

·       Stay away from the rivers as long till you get instructions to do otherwise from higher authorities.

·       Move away from rivers and streams and go to higher places and in case of any emergency wait for the help