20 May Flood Safety- How To Survive a Flood
A flood in Cedar Rapids, Iowa destroys homes and business in 2008. Image credit- www.boston.com
In light of the recent floods in central Texas, in which at least 3 people have lost their lives, we felt like it was time for a safety briefing.
Floods are no joke. With rising global temperatures water levels and unpredictable weather patterns have become a destructive norm. Protect yourself and your loved ones with these important considerations.
Preventative Measures- Firstly, bear in mind the natural routes floods will most likely take. Floodplains are areas near bodies of water that are lower in elevation than the water. These areas are the most susceptible flash-flooding. If it’s in your power, don’t live in a floodplain. However, some folks can’t help it- their entire city is one big floodplain. New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina is a good example. If you can’t avoid living in a floodplain you should try to make sure to at least live in an elevated area. This will increase your chances of saving your valuables and possibly even your life.
Secondly, you should also consider if you have flood insurance, or if your car insurance will cover flood damage. Many folks have been surprised and massively inconvenienced when they found their car destroyed in a flood and their insurance didn’t cover it. Basic liability insurance often does not cover floods, so it behooves you to get full coverage if flooding is a risk in your area.
A disaster survival kit should be in every household whether flooding is a chance or not! Image credit- www.wunderground.com
Third- A disaster supply kit of some kind. Keeping things such as; food, medical supplies, water, methods of marking, cordage, lights, radio equipment, batteries, etc. can be a huge help in any disaster, including floods. You can fit most of this stuff in a bag or ruck sack and keep it in your car or home to increase your chances of survival and extraction.
A cheap PFD like this can mean the ultimate difference in a bad flood.
Also of note- personal flotation devices. It may sound absurd to pack PFD’s in your personally owned vehicle (POV) or home, but if you live in a floodplain, a basin, or a tidal area it’s foolish not to. For a nominal cost you can have access to equipment that could easily save your life, and if the hundreds of thousands dead in Indonesia, Japan, and Haiti could attest to it I’m sure they certainly would.
Common sense- In desert areas flash floods can hit without any visible signs. A storm can strike an area far from your location and send flood waters down crevasses, dried up riverbeds, or mountain draws and truly put you in a bind. So always maintain situational awareness when you’re in areas such as these.
Use common sense to dictate your actions. If it’s raining out avoid going for a swim at the local river with your friends. Check the weather before going fishing or boating off coastal areas. Also check the weather at higher elevations than where you plan to camp, hike, or offroad in flood worthy areas. If there’s terrible weather at a higher elevation than where you plan to hang out there’s an increased risk of flooding.
Reacting to a flood- If you’re already in a flood situation, keep calm, don’t panic, and assess the situation. This sounds simple but many folks have lost that crucial ability when emergencies have happened and it’s cost them their life. Don’t freeze up, don’t expect to just stay stationary and wait it out. Mobilize and get yourself to high ground. If staying stationary means you’re already on high ground- then so be it, wait it out. Use methods of signal whether it be phones, flares, fires, mirrors, whatever you can use to get the attention of authorities who may extract you from the situation.
A man and his pet swim to safety as their truck is overtaken by a flood. Image credit- o.canada.com
Now, if you’re in your car and find yourself getting swept away then kiss your car goodbye,and swim towards safety further notice. Either roll down a window if you still have power or bash it out with a window punch, your keys, your feet, or whatever you can use. It’s important to get away from the car quickly, as rushing water can actually push you back into it and drown you. The car is also a heavy moving object and could crush you. Float with the current rather than against it and swim parallel down the current towards safety. Keep in mind debris while swimming to safety, with a flood comes a lot of moving debris that can knock you out and drown you.
Electrocution is the second highest killer in floods other than drowning. Avoid downed power lines at all cost. Image credit- www.doomandbloom.net
Stay away from downed power lines or sparking electrical equipment. It can be difficult to tell if water is electrified or not, so to test it use the back of your hand to see if it’s got any shock to it. You don’t want to just plunge your hand into the water, as that can full on electrocute you. If you lightly touch the water with the skin on the back of your hand and feel a jolt, avoid that water and seek higher ground.
There’s no simple answer to reacting to floods other than to get away from them by any means possible. In big storms always tune into your local emergency broadcast system. If they call for an evacuation listen to them. Don’t get all hung up on watching over your property. Evacuate your family to a safe location, whether that be with friends or family members or even camping out away in your vehicle in a safer area. There’s little you can do to protect your stuff once a flood is happening, so make your safety the number one priority and carry on. You can replace material items, but you can’t replace lives.
“Si Vis Pacem Para Bellum” –Tommy