Alert today, alive tomorrow

Stay safe during Flash Floods

The phenomenon explained

The 2 types of flooding

Worldwide, flooding cost every year many lives and material damage. Sometimes floods develop slowly and weather forecasters can anticipate where and when a flood will happen before it occurs. However, a “flash flood” occur within minutes and sometimes without any sign of rain, or thunderstorm.

Many people (unfortunately) already know from experience whether their property is in a flood-prone or high-risk area and how to handle. But with larger (flash) flooding, others turn out to be completely caught by surprise and not quite sure what to do.

In this news item we will therefore take a step-by-step look at what to do in this natural disaster. Whereby we state: measures for your life and that of your loved ones first, measures indoors, then outdoors and what to do after the disaster.

Knowing what to do

Being prepared can save your life and the lives of your loved ones

Lives first

If severe weather is forecast, it gives time to charge phones. Often the power goes off, but telecommunications continue to work. So you can continue also to follow the news and social media and to stay in touch with family and friends. Turn off phones when you don’t need them to save the battery. An extra simple radio on batteries to follow the news can also be useful.

If the phone doesn’t have a flashlight, make sure you have a flashlight yourself, spare batteries or candles so you can see in the dark.

Get food and drinks at home for at least 48 hours. During the flood, do not drink water from wells or bore holes, as there is a high probability that sewage water is mixed with it. A last option may be to boil this water (let it boil for at least 1 minute), but this is not a guarantee.

Avoid walking in flood water as it can cause skin and toenail infections, especially if you have an open wound. If available, wear rubber boots.

Try to stay calm. Often a panic of an anxiety attack arises when flood water enters a house. But remember: don’t panic, the water will come anyway. Panic often also blocks rational thinking, people stop breathing (hyperventilate). Therefore, inhale for 4 seconds, hold the breath for 4 seconds and exhale for 4 seconds. Repeat and keep yourself focus on the breath.
Panic also often arises because people do not know how to act. Possibly useful, to hang this checklist on the wall or make you own action list. Know what to do, know how to act !

Your Property

You may have to evacuate, so pack basic needs in advance if you have time. Don’t wait until the last moment to gather the essentials for yourself, your family and/or your pets. Think of a shelter where you can possibly go.

Practice Electrical Safety: Don’t go into any room or house, if water covers the electrical outlets or if cords are submerged. If you see sparks or hear buzzing, crackling, snapping or popping noises–get out! Stay out of water that may have electricity in it!

Standard procedure is: first turn off the main switch (next to the electricity meter), close gas bottles and shut off the water.
Disconnect all equipment in your house and move everything (if possible) off the ground, for example on cement blocks, or to higher ground. Experience learns that many people also use ropes to hang furniture and everything of value on their ceiling beams.

If you stay in your home during the flood, permanent damage control is highly recommended. Eg, cracks in floors, walls and ceilings that arise. They could be serious indications that your house is about to collapse.

If you have access to sand or rice bags or other materials, use them to protect your home from flood waters if you have sufficient time to do so. Filling bags can take more time than you may think.

Tie down or bring in outdoor objects (patio furniture, children’s toys, trash cans, etc.) that could be swept away or damaged during flooding.

Gambia Floods

Out door Safety

Avoid Fast Moving Flood Waters: It only takes 6 inches of moving water to knock you off your feet. If you are trapped by moving water, move to the highest possible point. It is also, what you can’t see can be just as dangerous. Floodwaters often become contaminated with sewage or chemicals. Power lines can be deadly, but are not obvious at first glance. In some areas the danger of crocodiles or snakes can arise to.

Do NOT drive into flooded roadways, especially on roads you don’t know. Water may be deeper than it appears with the risk on damaging your electric car components. It can also hide hazards such as sharp objects, washed out road surfaces, electrical wires, chemicals, etc.

A vehicle caught in swiftly moving water can be swept away in seconds. 12 inches of water can float a car or small SUV, 18 inches of water can carry away large vehicles.

If you still have to drive, drive as slowly as possible and grab the steering wheel from behind. Never put your thumbs over the wheel in front, because if you drive into a pothole you can bruise or break it.

Do you consider yourself safe? Offers help to your community. Neighbors, your mosque, local shops, hospital or the neighborhood school may need an extra hand.

After the Flood

Start an all clear check first when you re-enter your abandoned house: Is the main electricity switch (still) off? First, walk around your house to check for damage, cracks in walls, etc. If you enter your (flood damaged) building, be extremely careful and (unfortunately often not yet possible) make sure that the water gets out of your house in the first place.

Many infectious diseases still break out after the flood, related to the fact that people fail to disinfect EVERYTHING. Therefore, first open all windows for airing, and turn on all fans (if you have them).

Kill mold on forefront: Flooded floors and walls should be washed with a solution of two capfuls of household bleach for each gallon of water.

Clean, disinfect and dry every flood contaminated item. Sunlight is an excellent and free tool to help you kill any hazardous bacteria that always rapid very quickly to infect your moisture-absorbing materials, such as mattresses, bedding, teddy bears, clothing.

Flash Flooding Video

Video taken at Dakar 5th August 2022

(Alert: Look closely how dangerous the moving water can be)
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