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National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Centre (Ministry of Social Security, National Solidarity and Environment and Sustainable Development)

Torrential Rain/Flood

Note:
(i) The following advice is based upon best available information. However, all emergency situations are fluid and may produce unexpected events. The priority in emergency situations is to protect yourself and your family. These advisory pages are intended only as guidance to help you prepare. In the event of facing immediate danger, protecting yourself and your family is always the first priority.
(ii) Lists provided for emergency and evacuation kits are not exhaustive and will depend upon the circumstances of the individual(s).
 
If your house is near a watercourse or is in a low-lying area it could be flooded, even if you have never seen flood waters there before. This guide lists simple things you and your family can do to stay safe and protect your property.
 
Be prepared
Know your local flood history
·         Ask your Local Authority (Municipality & District Council) about the following:
·         How prone your area is to flooding; what flood events have there been there in the past 20 years.
·         Know your local flood plans, if any and understand when you may need to evacuate and how to get to the nearest safe location.
Do not throw waste into waterways and drains as this will block them and could cause flooding. Please report any case of obstructed waterway/drains to the relevant local authority (Municipal Council or District Council).
 
If flooding appears to be likely
·         Monitor the radio and television for advice and reports of flooding in progress
·         Move vehicles, as well as outdoor equipment, rubbish, chemicals and pesticides/herbicides to higher ground as long as it is safe to do so,
·         Plan in advance which indoor items you will raise or empty out if water threatens to enter your home. Stack your furniture and possessions above the likely flood-level. Make sure you have your electrical equipment as high up as possible.
·         Put sandbags in the toilet bowl (WC) and over all laundry/bathroom drain-holes to prevent sewerage back-flow.
·         Have your emergency/evacuation kit ready, including sufficient fresh water
·         Check that your neighbours are aware of the situation
·         Be aware that flash flooding can occur. If there is any possibility of a flash flood, move immediately to higher ground. Do not wait for instructions to move.
·         Be prepared to evacuate at very short notice. If water begins to enter your property, leave immediately. Do not wait to secure your property.
·         Avoid below-ground level facilities (underground passes, parking, stores, basements, etc…)
·         If you see waters rising quickly, even if there has not been an alert issued, move quickly to safer grounds and stay there. Alert local authorities if possible.
·         If you see river water levels suddenly dropping despite heavy rain, consider the possibility of a landslide upstream, immediately head for safer location. Alert local authorities if possible.
 
Landslides can be caused by a variety of factors including earthquakes, cyclones, heavy/torrential rains and by human modification of land. Landslides can occur quickly, often with little notice and the best way to prepare is to stay informed about changes in and around your home that could signal that a landslide is likely to occur.
 Act on flood warnings
When you hear a flood warning and you live in an area likely to be affected, you should:
·         Stack your furniture and possessions above the likely flood-level. Make sure you have your electrical equipment as high up as possible.
·         Secure objects that could float in the flood water and cause damage.
·         Move rubbish, chemicals (like poisons or fuel) to a high and secure place.
·        If you are planning to leave your home turn off electricity, water and gas. Take your mobile phone and charger.
·        Put sandbags in the toilet bowl and over all laundry/bathroom drain-holes to prevent sewage back-flow.
·         If you have a shop or commercial property, relocate stock and equipment to a higher position away from the water.
·         If you live on a farm, move livestock to high ground.
·         Check your car and fill it with fuel.
·         Check your      Emergency Kit
 
During a flood
If you need to evacuate
  • Turn off electricity, water and gas. Take your mobile phone and charger.
  • Put sandbags in the toilet bowl and over all laundry/bathroom drain-holes to prevent sewage back-flow.
  • Lock your home and take the recommended evacuation routes for your area.
  • If you need to evacuate quickly, take only essential possessions (eg … Emergency Kit). Do not remain to protect other assets, it is more important to protect yourself and your family.
·         If you see waters rising quickly, even if there has not been an alert issued, head for higher ground and stay there.  Alert local authorities if possible.
·         If you see river water levels suddenly dropping despite heavy rain, consider the possibility of a landslide upstream and immediately head for a safe location. Alert local authorities if possible.
 
·         Stay away from floodwaters.
o    If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, stop, turn around and go another way. Six inches of swiftly moving water can sweep you off of your feet.
o    If you have to walk in water, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you, and to identify hazards beneath the surface.
o     If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Never drive into water of unknown depth and current. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
 
·         Keep children out of the water. They are curious and often lack judgment about running water or contaminated water.
·          Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood danger.
·         Your car will fill with water. Do not remain in your vehicle if floodwater is rising around you. Exit the vehicle as quickly and safely as possible and head for higher ground.
·         Be aware that a large-scale event may mean that there is disruption of road networks and telecommunications. You may need to consider different routes for evacuation if roads become flooded. As far as possible ensure family members and neighbours know where you are going in the event of an evacuation. Once you reach a place of safety, endeavor to report to the relevant authorities so your location will be known.
After a flood
·         Return home only when officials have declared the area safe.
·         Before entering your home, look outside for loose power lines, damaged gas lines, foundation cracks or other damage.
·         Parts of your home may be collapsed or damaged. Approach entrances carefully.  Check if roofs and overhangs have all their supports.
·         If you smell gas or hear a hissing noise, leave immediately and call the fire department. Under no circumstances investigate yourself. Do not turn on any electricity which could cause a spark or light any flame if you suspect a gas leak
·         If power lines are down outside your home, do not step in puddles or standing water.
·         Keep children and pets away from hazardous sites and floodwater.
·         Materials such as cleaning products, paint, batteries, contaminated fuel and damaged fuel containers are hazardous. Check with local authorities for assistance with disposal to avoid risk.
·         During clean up, wear protective clothing, including rubber gloves and rubber boots.
·         If you must walk or drive in areas that have been flooded.
·         Stay on firm ground. Moving water only 6 inches deep can sweep you off your feet. Standing water may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.
·         Flooding may have caused familiar places to change. Floodwaters often erode roads and walkways. Flood debris may hide broken bottles and other sharp objects, and it's also slippery. Avoid walking or driving through it.
·         Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded. Roads may have weakened and  could collapse under the weight of a car.
·         Make sure your food and water are safe. Do not use water that could be contaminated to wash dishes, brush teeth, prepare food, wash hands, make ice or make baby formula.
·         Contact your local or state public health department for specific recommendations for boiling or treating water in your area after a disaster as water may be contaminated
·         Emergency workers will be assisting people in flooded areas. You can help them by staying off the roads and out of the way.
·         Play it safe. Additional flooding or flash floods can occur. Listen for local warnings and information. If your car stalls in rapidly rising waters, get out immediately and climb to higher ground
 

 

 

Stay Healthy: Flood water can be extremely polluted. Follow these tips to reduce risk of injury, sickness or infection:
·         Do not eat food which has been in contact with flood water, including canned goods.Discard items that have come in contact with floodwater, including canned goods, water bottles, plastic utensils and baby bottle nipples. When in doubt, throw it out!
·         Boil all water until supplies have been declared safe.
·         Do not handle wet electrical or gas equipment.
·        Avoid wading even in shallow water as it may be contaminated. If you must enter shallow flood water, wear solid boots or shoes for protection.
·        Never enter water of unknown depth or current.
·       Check with police for safe routes before driving anywhere.
·      Keep listening to your local radio or TV station and follow all warnings and advice.
·      Remove any water that has accumulated on the roof of your house, or around your home to prevent propagation of mosquitoes.
Clean and disinfect everything that got wet. Mud left from floodwaters can contain sewage and chemicals