Flood Survival Guide: Everything You Need To Know
Do you know that unlike more geographically localized natural disasters like wildfires, tornadoes,k2 rf and hurricanes, flooding can happen almost anywhere, and the effect can be devastating if you are unprepared?
Every year floods cause massive damage across the world. Floods accounted for 12% of all the deaths due to natural disasters in the last decade. It caused about 93,000 fatalities.
Floods can result in widespread destruction causing loss of life and personal property. More than 2 billion people were affected worldwide due to floods between the year 1998-2017.
Some interesting data about floods
- Even a few inches of floodwater can cause damage worth thousands of dollars.
- This is the Number 1 natural disaster in the US.
- A flash flood can bring water that is 10 to 15 feet high.
- Water that is just two feet high can easily carry a car.
- If your home is located in a high-risk flood zone, you will have to buy special flood insurance.
- Homeowners located in a 100-year floodplain have a 1 in 4 chance of being flooded.
- Flood mitigation practices help to minimize the loss of damage to properties and loss of life. It provides a 5 dollar benefit for every dollar invested.
- The last decade has witnessed a drastic rise in the intensity and frequency of storms.
- More than 17% of land in the United States is located in the 100-year flood zone.
- Flash floods can bring well water to rise from 10 to 20 feet high.
- More than 100 people die annually due to flood in the US (Since 2015)
- The Yellow River in China had four deadliest floods in the history of the World. The 1931 flood resulted in the death of 1 to 4 million people.
What causes flooding?
A flood is an overflow of water onto dry land. This can happen almost anywhere. The flood intensity can vary from covering an area with few inches of water or submerging a multi-story building entirely.
Floods are often unpredictable, and the effect can last for a few days, weeks, or even months.
Here are some of the main reasons why floods are caused:
- Excessive rainfall.
- Storm pushing seawater into the coastal areas.
- Melting of snow and ice, commonly known as ice jams
- Sudden breaking of water systems such as dams, public water systems, sewer, etc.
- Waterways getting clogged with debris or ice.
- Excessive water flows into streams, rivers, and lakes due to heavy rainfall or snow’s rapid melting.
What is a flash flood?
Flash floods are quite dangerous and happen unexpectedly with no warning. This occurs when there is more rainwater in the soil beyond its standard absorbing capacity.
Excess water will quickly run into rivers, overwhelming storm drains and ditches, causing a flash flood.
Flash Flood Survival Tips
Even if you live in an area with a low risk of flooding, just keep in mind that only because you haven’t experienced a flood in the past doesn’t mean it won’t happen in the future.
The risk of a flood depends on several factors such as topography, rainfall, climatic changes, river flow, etc.
How to prepare before a flood?
If there is a possibility of a flood, preparing beforehand can be the difference between life and death.
If you live in a heavy flood risk area, keep a watch on the local weather report. The National weather service of any country is responsible for issuing flood warnings announced on public radios and television channels.
In case you happen to know that a flood is about to happen. Here are the things that you should do:
- Put essential items in a waterproof container.
- Elevate the electric panel, water heater, and furnace in your home if you live in a high flood risk area.
- If possible, construct barriers to restrict floodwater from entering your building. Seal the basement walls with waterproof materials.
- Make sure that your vehicle’s gas tank is filled in case of any emergency.
- Elevate what you can, such as important documents, photo albums, and anything that can be moved to an upper level in the home.
- Consider installing check valves to prevent flood water from entering the drains of your home.
- Place sandbags around your property to divert water and stop the debris from crashing into your home and yard.
- Reinforce any items that are not structurally stable.
- Move all the furniture indoors.
- Clear all the debris lying around the yard, so it is less likely to cause any damage.
- Keep your pets safe during a flood.
- If you have livestock that can’t be transported to higher ground, let them loose. This will give them the best chances for survival.
- Make a family communication plan and build an emergency kit.
What to Do During a Flood?
If a flood is likely to happen in your area
- Check the news for the latest updates regarding information related to floods.
- If there is any possibility of a flood, move immediately to higher ground without wasting time waiting for evacuation orders.
- Keep in mind where the drain channels, streams, or other rivers are located and try to avoid the route as much as possible.
- Turn off the power supply, main switches, and disconnect all electrical appliances.
What if you couldn’t evacuate?
Due to some reasons, if you couldn’t evacuate and get caught up in flood, you could follow some tips.
You should never walk through the water if it is higher than your ankles. The water level can unexpectedly rise and sweep you off your feet before you could grab hold of anything.
If you have no other option but to stay at home, move to the highest floor. Never go to an enclosed space as you might be trapped in there without any provision to carry out.
Don’t be over smart to swim your way to safety. Floodwaters flow with a large amount of force, making it challenging to swim even for the best swimmer. Besides, the fast-flowing waters often carry large debris that can pull you down the water.
What if you are trapped in a vehicle?
If you are trapped in a vehicle during a flood, make sure to stop the car immediately and run for higher ground.
Never drive through the floodwater as many people have lost their lives in trying to do so. You will be putting your life and the life of other passengers in grave danger.
Studies have shown that two fast-flowing water feet are more than enough to sweep away even large vehicles.
But if the water flow is too heavy and you cannot move out of the vehicle, call the National emergency number (911 for US/999 for Malaysia) for immediate assistance and climb on top of the car.
What to do after a flood?
Once you have been through a flood, wait until the water recedes before making it back to the home.
The extent of the devastation of the flood depends on several different factors such as
- How polluted was the water
- Extend of water level of the flood
- The flow of water etc.
Here are some of the things that you have to keep in mind after a flood:
- Return to your home only when it is announced that it is safe to do so.
- Avoid running water.
- If it is necessary to walk or drive, choose those areas that are not flooded.
- Make sure that you stay on firm ground and avoid walking or driving over running water. Moving water that is just 6 inches thick can sweep you off your feet.
- Try to avoid all flooded areas unless you are specially trained to assist.
- Try to avoid any contact with floodwater as they might sometimes carry electric charges from underground power supply lines.
- Move out of any building that is surrounded by floodwater.
- Roads might be damaged after the flood. While driving makes sure that you only choose the recommended route by the authorities.
- Never enter any partially broken or collapsed building. The entire structure must be weak, and it can collapse without warning.
- Flood increases the likelihood of mudslides or landslides. Be alert if you live in such an area.
- During floods, wild animals, especially snakes and bears, lose their habitat and often seek shelter at abandoned houses and buildings.
- Floods cause erosion that impacts man-made structures such as walkways, bridges, pavements, etc. Be careful before you step on these structures.
What to do once you are finally back home?
Surviving a flood can be physically and mentally tormenting for anyone. Realize that you’re not alone, and many have survived. Stay and look after yourself and your family.
Once you are back home, you will have an idea of the extent of the damage. Sometimes even a few inches of water can cause several thousand dollars of the repair cost.
Take pictures of the flood damage and inform your flood insurance company as soon as possible to file the claim.
Once you are inside your house, check for:
- Wild animals
- Damaged electrical appliances
- Gas leakage
- Slippery surface
- Loose floorboards etc
When it comes to cleaning your home after the flood, follow the guidelines below:
- Never turn on your electricity unless thoroughly inspected and approved by an electrician.
- Make sure that you wear a protective suit, facemask, and gloves while clearing the debris.
- Remove the moist carpet, clean it, and dry it out in the sun.
- Drywall and wood that got saturated with the floodwater should be replaced or repaired depending on the damage’s extent.
- Use a flashlight and do not use a candlelight as it might result in a fire if there is gas leakage.
- Dispose of any unused food and in contact with the floodwater.
- Thoroughly clean and disinfect every surface that was in contact with the floodwater.
- Check for damages to the water supply, septic tank, and repair.
- Eat and rest well
- Discuss your problems with others to have a sense of support.
- If you are hiring workers to clean up the debris, make sure that they are qualified and experienced to do the job.
Flood survival kits
Having an emergency survival kit during floods can sometimes make the difference between life and death. Having some essential items in your survival kit makes it less stressful.
Make a list of essential items required by you and put them inside a waterproof container. Remember, this is not a last-minute job as floods can strike anytime.
Some of the items for your emergency kit includes:
- First aid kits
- Copies of important documents
- Flotation devices
- Clothes and blankets
- Bottled water
- Basic hygiene products
- Battery chargers etc.
You could add other essential items of your choice and make sure that it is easy to carry.
While it is impossible to completely prevent the floodwater from invading your home, you could do a lot to minimize its impact. In this article, we will guide various survival tips during a flood.
Floods can strike anytime without warning, and it is best to be prepared if you are living in a flood-prone area.
Knowing flood safety tips can improve the survival rate and reduce the impact on you and your family.