Flash Flood Warnings: What to Do Before, During and After
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The West Coast of Sabah has been hit by waves of freak flash floods since September 15th, 2021. Another wave of thunderstorms and unusually heavy rain is said to hit again today, September 20th until tomorrow. To manage and save yourself, your home and family members from further danger and destruction, read on for some tips and precautions to take before, during and after a flash flood.
Landmark underwater in Penampang, Kota Kinabalu. Source: The Malay Mail
Before The Storm
- First, you should determine whether your home is in a flood-prone area. If yes, check the following steps and if no, make sure you remain in a safe area and share this checklist with a friend or family member in case it may help them.
- If you are in a flood-prone area, the best thing to do is evacuate. Develop a plan should you need to evacuate and make sure your family members understand the plan before the flash flood hits to avoid further distress.
- Start moving things up and out of the way. To save on time, save the most valuable items first such as food supplies, medical equipment and medicines, important documents, furniture, electronics, clothing and jewellery.
- Before evacuating, determine the safest exit route and avoid roads that may be blocked by roads or landslides.
- Turn off all utilities, electricity, gas and water.
- Notify all friends and relatives where you will be evacuating to.
- Prepare and maintain a disaster supply/ first aid kit including; first aid supplies, a flashlight with extra batteries, non-perishable food and drinking water, medicines, candles and matches, warm clothes and sleeping bags, cash, rain gear.
- Try to have two sets of supply kits in case you stay or should you need to take a kit when you evacuate.
- Prepare sets of clean, plastic containers for drinking water. Each person should have one gallon of drinking water for 7 days.
- Teach your children how to call 999 and contact the police, fire department, family members and how to tune in to the radio for emergency updates.
Jalan Penampang Papar Old highway underwater during the flood. Source: Unknown (Whatsapp)
During the Flood
If you are in a flood-prone area:
- Immediately move to higher ground. Do not wait for instructions to do so as flash floods are dangerous and move fast.
- Listen to the radio, television or other Emergency Alerting systems for further disaster information.
- Be aware of streams and areas that may flood suddenly. Flash floods can occur suddenly even without warning or when there are no rain clouds or storms occurring in the area yet.
If you are evacuating:
- Turn off all electrical circuits and water outlets in your house and leave immediately. Do not wait until the flood has reached your home.
- Take the recommended routes, avoiding danger zones.
- If you encounter a flood, turn back and take another route. Do not drive through water or through barriers.
- It only takes a foot of water for a small car to be swept away and two feet of water to take any other car.
- Only 6 inches of rushing water can knock down any person.
- If your car breaks down, you must abandon it and move to higher ground immediately.
Source: The Borneo Post
NOTE: DO NOT attempt to walk or drive through moving water or flooded areas.
After the Flood
- Do not return home until you are advised by authorities
- Before returning home, check your car for any damages or missing parts
- When entering back into your home after the flood, be aware of animals or dangerous insects that may have entered with the flood.
- Inspect electrical outlets, gas and water sources before turning it on.
- Inspect your septic tank
- Any food and beverages affected by the flood should be thrown out
- Help your neighbours and the disabled
- Alert local authorities on broken public amenities
How to Help After the Flood?
Community is needed more than ever after a natural disaster. If you are able to contribute and volunteer, make sure to check with organizations and community groups first to see what is needed.
Financial aid is always needed by the victims but make sure to contribute through a recognized organization. Before moving to help or to donate food or clothing, wait for instructions from local authorities.