By Ankita Purohit

How to Survive a Flood | Tips and Safety Measures

Flooding is one of the most common and dangerous natural calamities that is underestimated by people who have never witnessed it themselves apart from reading or watching the related news. It should actually be given weighage so that one is already prepared for the upcoming danger which can potentially damage the dwelling and might even cause death!

The key cause of the flood is excessive rains most commonly, but there can be other factors that add more threat OR can be the only reason, such as damaged dams. Mostly the areas that are surrounded by large bodies of water like coastal regions, valleys, swamplands, etc. are likely to be affected than those that aren’t.

It is, therefore, always good to know the history (of floods) of whichever geographic region one resides in. Areas that are already susceptible and have a history can deal with this issue with greater care than those that were never before. Although even if your area was never flooded before and you can clearly see that there is a tremendous rise in the water levels, you should be vigilant and prepare yourself for the upcoming possibility of risk. Before the floodwater arrives at your home premises, do the following.


How to Survive a Flood?

Before and During Flood

1. Home insurance: Insure your home against flooding if you reside somewhere where frequent rainfall occurs. So, if there comes a time when your house destroys, you can claim the compensation from the insurance company.

2. Barricade: Use barricading to prevent water from entering your fencing. Repair the walls if there are cracks. Seal your basement, if it is there. Do as much as possible to shield your house against water. This is important as the water-current is strong and loosens the walls of buildings wherever it reaches.

3. Shield your valuables: You need to prepare for the upcoming floods which is likely to reach insides of your dwelling. There are many things that cannot afford to be wet. The list is huge, for instance, important documents, furniture, electrical appliances, and so on. Hence, keep most of those things on higher grounds, perhaps higher floor or terrace, perhaps, if it has proper shelter.

All kinds of electric equipment should be turned off and disconnected from the main switches. Keep the documents inside a waterproof box or somewhere which can totally conceal them. If possible, keep a scanned copy of all the crucial documents in your Google Drive or any other Cloud so that anything can be retrieved whenever necessary.

4. Stay updated about the weather forecast: Always keep your radio, mobile phone, and television ON to know the latest weather updates. This will prevent you to face a sudden occurrence of something. If you do not have an option of electricity, use a device that is powered by a long-lasting battery. Also, recharge your devices regularly to make use of them for longer.

5. Know where to go during an emergency: If you got a warning sign from the local authorities of your area to vacate your house, do that immediately and know the destination address in detail. If they are coming by themselves to rescue you, fine; else have a descriptive plan that each member of your family (or community members if you stay temporarily at a different place, say college hostel) should know.

Each member of the family should have a paper containing all kinds of contact details, such as emergency contacts, their addresses, and methods to reach those places. Always communicate with each other so that if anybody who isn’t in the house at a moment, may still be able to figure out where other members can be.

6. Always keep an Emergency Survival Kit handy: Keeping in mind about the possible danger that might arrive, it is better to pack a bag that should contain all the necessary items. This bag will be taken right after you receive a notice to vacate your place of residence. If you do not do this, you will miss important things and regret later. What’s next? All your stuff would be drowned to the point of little to no state of reuse, most likely.

Your emergency kit should contain food and water for at least three days. The food should be ready-to-eat type (instant meals, dried fruits, nuts, etc.) and the water needs to be nearly 3.5 liters per person per day. You do the math. Along with that, think about other necessities that you will probably need. For instance, clothes for at least one or two days, soaps, toothbrush, toothpaste, napkins, disposable utensils, baby food, diapers, medicines, and so on. Also, include pet items if you own (a) pet(s).

Moreover, it is recommended to keep the original and photocopies of identity cards (passports, driver’s licence, etc.) of all family members, birth/death certificates, insurance of your home/vehicle(s), bank account details, and some cash split and divided among each member. Do not forget to store these in a waterproof bag or a container.

7. First Aid Kit: The first aid kit must contain the necessary medical essentials that one might need. Most people know the basics, for example, cotton roll, bandages of various sizes, antiseptic liquid (Dettol/Savlon), heating bag, ice bag, thermometer, petroleum jelly, anti-fungal powder, and sodium bicarbonate for insects’ stings.

It should also contain all medications that family members require for their specific health concerns. For instance, if someone is suffering from diabetes, there should also be medicines related to it, and so on.

Additionally, it is also a good idea to keep cough and cold medicines, which are the most common issues being faced due to the change of weather. Also, do not forget to keep ointments like mosquito repellent cream (Odomus), Zandu balm and Vicks VapoRub, and pain-relieving sprays such as Move or Volini spray. These are extremely helpful and way better options than actually consuming an allopathic tablet.

8. Move to higher ground: There can be situations when you might find yourself being stuck in your own vehicle or house. Just try to reach the top of your vehicle or roof of your house. Abandon your vehicle if need be.

9. Avoid walking on floodwater: This is because you may never know how deep it can be ahead if you keep moving forward. Turn around if you are not sure. If you have no option other than moving forward then better to keep a long stick to feel the stable ground which is one step ahead of you as you keep advancing.

The water stream can be stronger which cannot be seen from outside. To have a rough idea about this, one should know that about 6 inches of water levels can actually reach the bottom of cars and cause stalling. It can sweep a person’s feet off if the flow is strong. If this level reaches up to 12 inches, it can float away most vehicles. Lots of flood-related deaths happen since some people risk driving through moving water over bridges or other roads that are just above the moving water streams.

Apart from adults, who may still be in contact with water, small children and pets should be strictly kept away from the floodwater. This is because it is infectious as well as more dangerous for them.

10. Swim backward: If you know swimming and the water rises too high, swim backward to avoid fighting against the tides. Now hold any roof or a tree trunk firmly and yell for help if you see anybody who is from the rescue team. Wave your arm as well if that is possible. Do not give up.


More Questions About Floods Answered

What is the difference between Flood Watch and Flood Warning?

There is a slight difference between Flood Watch and Flood Warning. The term Flood Watch indicates that there is a possibility of floods in your area. On the other hand, Flood Warning indicates that the area where you reside is soon going to be flooded and you must be prepared to evacuate your place of residence in a moment’s notice.

Some people do not take the warnings seriously. They stay at their home thinking that they can survive the upcoming event, and then they suffer later. Once you are notified, you are recommended to leave everything behind except your emergency survival kit and first aid kit, and move out of your house soon as you can. The danger is likely right ahead to reach your place even before you expect.

What is Flash Flood?

Flash floods are very quick to form, as quick as 58 – 60 seconds, which is why civilians may not even get a prior warning of evacuation. It is by far the most dangerous form of flooding and is usually caused by rain clouds. Residents who live nearby water reservoirs or other kinds of streams of water should be extra cautious. If this occurs, the residents have no time to think much and require to evacuate their houses and reach a safer area which is higher and is not prone to other conditions like landslides. Preparing an emergency survival kit and first aid kit may not even happen. Residents have to vacate immediately.

After The Flooding

  • Listen to the authorities: You should always follow the directions told by the local authorities. For instance, if you have already evacuated your home and are taking shelter in the relief camps, you should not go back to your home unless you are told to do so. It minimizes the possible risks of getting in contact with insects, snakes, and related infections. Most importantly, you must be assured that the floodwater has subsided. As said earlier, one must be updated through the news sources.
  • Check if the sump pump is working fine: Sump pump is going to be of great use if your area is flood-prone. So, make sure that it is working properly and not blocked from inside. If you reach your home after the disaster is subsided, the sump pump will help you take out the remaining water that is still there.
  • Watch out the damaged roads: If you return back by yourself, stay alert while traveling. This is because many roads are eroded, muddy and weak as a result of aftereffects of floods. Avoid those roads. Also, keep away from bridges at all costs because the cracks might be hidden and may collide within fractional seconds whether you are driving your vehicle above it or below. Apart from that, the buildings where floodwater reached can also collapse, so it will be better to be wary of those.
  • Look for gas leakage and poisonous animals: In your home, once you reach back, you must check thoroughly if any kind of gas leakage is there. Also, the chances of sneaking of poisonous snakes extend to many folds. You can use a stick to check for snakes. There are also reported cases of crocodiles reaching the vicinity of residential areas. So, beware of everything!
  • Take photos of your home: Now is the time to keep evidence of the caused damage by the flood to show the insurance company whichever you preferred before. Therefore, take proper photographs in detail to show to the concerned authorities in the coming days.
  • Disinfect your home: It is the need of hour to intensively clean and disinfect your house. Check every corner and make sure nothing is left. Do this with the help of others. Joint efforts do wonders and create everlasting bond among all members of the family and community. In an Indian state, Kerala, there were volunteers who cleaned people’s houses for free as well as neighbors who assisted each other. This is the kind of attitude one must keep.

Last but not least, stay away from rumors. There may come a time when the contact is lost among people and hoax kicks in about the upcoming events and possible dangers. Do not believe unless an official tells via reliable sources.

Flood is overwhelming. It is not something that should be taken lightly. One cannot even imagine the intensity of the damage the floods can cause, but after only while witnessing its aftereffects. It needs a whole lot of efforts to rebuild the destruction it had caused. If you have already gone through it, you probably know what I am talking about. So, let’s do not forget these tips and safety measures and know how to survive a flood in advance to avoid future chaos.

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