Water in a pitcher in the refrigerator, in a dispenser in the workplace, in a swimming pool in the village clubhouse, in the sea on a scorching summer’s day – this is water that is sure to make at least one person smile.
But raging floodwater on a stormy day? Definitely not something to smile about.
For those living in areas subject to constant flooding, being caught unprepared can result in minor discomfort or utter devastation. And quite sadly, some people not only suffer damage to property, they even lose their loved ones.
I have here a compiled list of things you can consider doing before, during and after a flood:
Before the flood
- If possible, do not build your home in a flood-prone area. Otherwise, elevate and reinforce your home.
- If you have a basement, seal its walls with waterproofing compounds to avoid floodwater seepage.
- Keep a list of important phone numbers like the National Disaster Coordinating Council, the police stations, hospitals, light and water companies, friends, family and relatives.
- Prepare an emergency supply kit consisting of first-aid supplies, battery-operated radio, spare batteries, flashlights, non-perishable food that can last a few days, water for the family and medicines. Rubber boots, blankets and dry clothing should be prepared as well.
- Secure important documents like birth certificates, marriage contracts, banking/financial records, et cetera in a waterproof case to be included in the emergency kit if the need to evacuate arises.
- Keep valuables such as jewelry, mobile phones, money and credit cards in one bag and keep the bag in the same place as the emergency kit so you can just grab everything from one place later on.
- Make sure to fully charge phones, rechargeable lamps, radios, et cetera.
During heavy downpour
- Don’t panic. It’s important to keep a level head during emergency situations.
- Listen to the news for the most current weather update.
- Elevate furniture and appliances. Enclose valuable equipment that may be too heavy to relocate in waterproof covers.
- Cardboard boxes and newspapers should be moved to higher ground as well. Once soaked in floodwater, they will disintegrate and clog drains.
- Once disaster coordinating authorities deem that an evacuation is warranted, follow instructions carefully. Be sure to shut down all household utilities, close main gas/water valves, unplug electrical appliances and keep refrigerators, freezers open so that they don’t float, tip over and get damaged or cause damage. Don’t forget the emergency kit you’ve beforehand prepared, along with your documents, valuables, spare blankets and clothing. Also, secure your home from looters taking advantage of the already dire situation.
- If you feel the need to evacuate voluntarily, tell someone where you’re going so you’re accounted for. This will avoid unnecessary effort for rescue workers and worry for friends and relatives later.
Things to remember while evacuating
- Never walk in moving water. Six inches of moving water can make you lose your balance.
- Don’t drive in flooded areas.
- Stay in contact with other people. Never go anywhere alone.
- Be extra careful on footbridges and walkways as they can be extremely slippery.
After the flood
- Stay away from knocked down power lines and report them to authorities immediately.
- During flood conditions, remember that any power source can be extremely dangerous.
- When entering your home, enter with care. Wear protective rubber boots and bring a flashlight with you. Be on the lookout for snakes and spiders.
- Do not turn on the lights or any electrical equipment until a qualified electrician inspected the place.
- Drink only boiled or bottled water until the normal water supply is deemed safe for drinking.
- Throw away all food exposed to flood, except those stored in airtight metal cans. However, before consuming the contents, be sure to properly clean the cans.
In the Philippines, flooding is a regular occurrence during the rainy season. It pays to be prepared when disaster strikes.
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