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How to survive in a flash flood emergency

Updated on August 11, 2013

Survival tips

Survivors of the Toowoomba and Lockyer Valley flash flood disaster contributed their own experience to help other people to learn what to do to improve their chances of survival.

If you have not already read my hub on How to prepare for flash flooding, please read that article first.

Once your preparation is completed, the following information may help you during the emergency situation.

This article is about what to do during the flash flood emergency.

Stay calm

1. Stay calm - people who have made their preparations to keep themselves and their family safe; have their medication, food and water supplies and are equipped with communications such as an internet-linked mobile phone and a battery-operated radio can remain calm, knowing they have done everything possible to protect themselves and their families.

See my previous article on how to prepare for flash flooding.

2. Move to high ground with emergency kit

2. If your house is at risk, for example because you are close to a gully, creek or river, move to high ground before the flash flooding begins with your waterproof grab-bag for essential items – food, water, medication, mobile phone and radio.

3. Monitor emergency radio station for updates.

Monitor emergency radio station for updates. Your local radio station is likely to be able to give the latest updates from authorities and from people in the disaster zone. This will give you information about where to go to be safe if necessary, information about roads which are closed due to bridges being closed or roads being impassable from landslides or mudslides.

4. Let others know where you are or, if you must move, let someone know where you intend to go.

Let others know where you are or, if you must move, let someone know where you intend to go.

If your family is unable to contact you they may put themselves in danger to find you. It is very important to let people know where you are so no one takes unnecessary risks.

5. Do not drive through fast-moving water.

Do not drive through fast-moving water. Water that is traveling fast does no need to be deep to wash you or your car off a road. In addition, fast-moving water may suddenly become deeper and may undercut the road causing it to subside. Emergency services may not be able to help you soon enough if you are stranded in fast-moving water as they may be trapped themselves or attending to other rescues.

Toowoomba CBD flooding and rescues. January 10, 2011

6. Beware of spiders and snakes which might be in the water or looking for higher ground.

Beware of spiders and snakes which might be in the water or looking for higher ground. Animals will be heading to higher ground. If you are only thing sticking above the surface, they will climb on you to escape the rising water.

7. Beware electrical wires - flash flooding can electrify guttering or bring down power lines.

Beware electrical wires - flash flooding can electrify guttering or bring down power lines. Electricity in a flooded house or power pole will travel to earth through water. If there is a risk of your house being flooded, turn off the power before you leave.


Helicopter rescue at Grantham, Australia

How to survive a flash flood emergency.
How to survive a flash flood emergency. | Source

Helping authorities to help you

Meteorologists rely on people in disaster zones letting them know what is happening. If you are in position to observe a flash flood occurring, contact your bureau of meteology with current information.

During the emergency, phone lines often fail or are overloaded, so only use phone networks for important information.

Social media are becoming a well-recognised source of information during emergencies.

If you have a laptop and modem, make sure they are charged. Share information with your family and friends.

Make a list of emergency phone numbers and keep it with you. It is useful to have the numbers written on something that is waterproof.

Life-threatening emergency number ________________

State Emergency Service ________________________

Local police station ____________________________

Fire and Rescue _____________________

Local rural fire brigade _________________________

Local ambulance station ________________________

Local Bureau of Meteorology ____________________

Local emergency radio station ____________________


For more information on flash floods . . .

For more information on flash floods see my other articles:

Learning from the Toowoomba and Lockyer Valley floods

and

How to prepare for flash floods

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