How To Plan And Prepare For A Flood: Tips That May Save Your Life

With rain pouring down every single day, the best thing to do is to put together steps you can take to stay safe.

Cover image via Wolfgang Hasselmann/Unsplash & Saikiran Kesari/Unsplash

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With recent flood disasters hitting many different parts of our country, Malaysians rally to save their houses and their lives

Described as one of the worst natural disasters our country has ever seen, the recent storms that have resulted in flooding throughout multiple states in Malaysia has signalled an automatic alarm in all the rakyat. 

With widespread catastrophe all over Selangor and Kuala Lumpur including cities in Shah Alam and Hulu Langat, provinces within Pahang, Terengganu, and Kelantan have also borne the unfathomable loss. 

Forecasts indicate that this rainy season is far from over. Therefore, here are some key steps you can take to prepare for a flood if necessary.

What you should do to PREPARE for a flood:

Develop a plan, and stick with it

Stay calm and don't panic.

- Discuss what each family member should do if you need to evacuate your house. 

- Every person needs to be accounted for, and should know where to go.

- If you have pets, make sure they do not get left behind

- Write down evacuation routes you can take to leave, list of shelters that would be open for such an instance, and take down emergency call numbers you may need to resort to if the flood subsists. 

Image via Ready

Determine what needs to be moved

Your personal and cherished items do not have to perish if such an incident were to occur. This is what you should do:

- Identify your most treasured items before the flood and keep them in a safe place (preferably on high counter tops or on top of high-rise furniture).

- Ensure those items can be accessed quickly in an emergency. Do not put them in places difficult to obtain.

- Selected delicate items should be moved to higher ground if possible (For example, television and desktop monitors)

- Certain items that should be on your top priority include, but are not limited to: 
1. Electronics (laptops, phones, monitors, chargers, power banks).
2. Jewellery of monetary value.
3. Documentation (IC, birth certificate, passport, marriage certificate, insurance papers, medical records, bank account numbers).

TIP: Keep all important documents in a single file to make retrieving them easier.

Make a disaster supply bag at home

Alongside valued items in the house, creating a disaster supply bag will ensure you have all the fundamentals for survival, and reduce your stress levels should a flood be approaching your residence. 

Crucial components that need to be added to your disaster supply bag include:
1. Money (cash, debit cards, and credit cards)
2. Reasonable amount of drinkable water
3. Non-perishable foods (for example, canned goods, juices, vitamins, grains, and canned beans)
4. First Aid Kit
5. Flashlight and batteries (candles and matches as an alternative).
6. Blankets
7. Clothes (preferably a change or two, packing an entire wardrobe will overload the bag)
8. Keys (house keys and car keys are important)
9. Toiletries (wet wipes, toilet paper, and sanitisers)

TIP: Bring a toy or two along if you have young children to keep them occupied. Bring animal food if you have pets.

Learn how to turn off utilities

A flood does not select when or where to arrive, but when it does, you might want to keep your heavy or unmovable belongings intact.

Remember these key steps before evacuating your residence or moving to higher ground:
- Turn off your house utilities (gas, electricity, water, sewage and sanitation system).
- Unplug and remove the adaptor plugs for heavy appliances (fridge, oven, water heater, laundry machine, dryer, and dishwasher). 

TIP: Items are replaceable, you aren't. Don't risk your life to save heavy electronic appliances.

Inform family members and close friends of your situation

If you have family members or friends nearby, it would be best to keep them updated if your house is at risk of experiencing a flood. 

Inform your family or friends of your evacuation if you need to, or ask them to contact emergency hotlines if you need help. 

If the location of their house is in a non-flood warning area, head there for refuge.

What you should do DURING a flood:

Remain calm, don't panic.

If you are in a building: 
- Listen to radio stations or your local news network to be informed on your housing location. 
- Check the drainage system behind or outside your house to see the water levels. The higher the water level climbs, the more likely you will have to evacuate. 
- Move to higher ground. Only move to the roof if necessary.
- If advised to evacuate, do so immediately (lock gates and doors before leaving if possible).

- DO NOT walk through the floodwater.
- DO NOT drive through the floodwater. 
- DO NOT swim through the floodwater. 

If you are in a car:
- Stay off bridges as they can be washed away in severe floods.
- Stay inside your car if you are trapped by rapidly moving water.
- Move to the roof of your car if water starts to fill your car.

What you should do AFTER a flood:

DO NOT return home unless advised to do so. Wait for a signal by authorities or emergency services on the status of your housing area. If allowed, return home and do not be hasty.

- Before entering your house, inspect your property outside (ensure locks and doors do not cave in when you try to open them).

- Careful where you step! If you are wearing slippers or lightweight shoes, look out for glass shards, sharp objects, and wires. DO NOT touch anything with your bare hands.

a. Animals that may be inside your house. This includes snakes, lizards, and even alligators. 
b. Mould or water leaks. Make sure you have gloves, masks, and boots when doing the cleanup. 

- Inspect electric current, gas, and water pressure before turning it on. If you did not turn the utilities off, check for the smell of gas. If the smell persists, open the windows and doors of your house. Leave immediately and call the authorities.

- Start the cleanup. It may take awhile, but you will get there.

- Check on your neighbours. Lend a helping hand to everyone.

TIP: Inspect your septic tank, clogging is a possibility after floods.

Safety first, so you last. Stay alert, don't get hurt.

Save these emergency hotlines on your phone, you never know when you may need them:

Police and Ambulance: 999

Fire and Rescue Department: 994

Civil Defence: 991

Check out our latest coverage on the floods happenings throughout Malaysia:

If your car gets damaged by the flood, here's what you can do:

How to clean up your house after a flood:

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