When flooding happens, it can be fast, unexpected and devastating. Rainy climates like we have in Panama see it regularly, but almost any location can be hit by a flood after higher than normal rainfalls.
Knowing what to do in a flood can help to minimize damage caused by flooding, and the risk to human life.
Dealing with a flood as it happens is much easier if adequate pre-flood planning has been done. Flood planning is outside of the scope of this article because once a flood happens, it is too late.
As flood waters begin to rise near your home, your first priority will be to stay informed, if possible. You have to know the risks and projections of the rising water if you are to deal with them adequately.
The order of your next steps may depend on how far away the flood waters are from your home.
Your first step will be to move cars and other vehicles, valuables, children and pets to a safe location. Because flood damage can keep you isolated for long periods, you should also move food and drinking water to a dry spot.
After these important items are secured you need to try and keep water from entering your home. Placing sand bags, if available is your first line of defence. Also, using floor boards, plastic and other items to cover windows and other entries into your home will help.
In order to block contaminated water from entering your home through the water supply or waste pipes, you should block these off however possible. You can plug drains with rags or plastic bags filled with dirt. Washing machines should be disconnected if you can.
Once you have done everything you can do to block water entering your home, turn off the gas and electricity if it is safe to do so. Many people who are killed or injured during floods are because of electrocution or explosion.
Finally, evacuate if you are advised to do so. Many people want to stay with their belongings in the case of flood, but at this point there is not much that you can do. Do not put your family and yourself in additional danger by staying at home if you are advised to get out. You can deal with your belongings after the flood waters have receded.
Dealing with a flood when it is approaching your home is a time critical activity that is made much easier when you have a plan. However, whether you have a plan or not, it is important to protect your valuables, pets and family first. And then do whatever you can to stop water from entering your home.
You also have to know when to get out. You and your families safety is the most important thing.
A flood can be absolutely devastating, and they can also be deadly. Knowing what to do in the case of a flood can help get you through it the best way possible.