How To Survive Flash Floods
By : Bhavanpreet Kaur
Editor : Chan Lyn Yi
The recent flash floods in Johor and Pahang have effected more than 6000 people in this two states due to the extremely intense rainfall and have forced around 2000 over families to be evacuated to relief centres. In Johor, some of the latest flood affected districts were Kluang, Mersing, Pontian, Johor Bahru, Kulai, Batu Pahat and Kota Tinggi while Kampung Gudang Rasau in Pahang.
Heavy downpours have also been forecast for some areas in Pekan and Romping in Pahang, Kelantan and Terengganu states by the Malaysian Meteorological Department (Met Malaysia). Several areas in Sabah and Sarawak are also to experience heavy rain and strong winds and might result in flash floods for low situated areas.
Flash flood can occur within a few minutes or hours and it often begins within 3 hours of the heavy rainfall. Flash floods can be caused by a number of things but is most often due to extremely heavy rainfall from thunderstorms in a short period of time. Flash floods tend to affect low-lying areas with rapid rise in water level, high velocity and large amounts of debris. Flash flooding usually occurs very quickly that people are caught off-guard. Their situation may become dangerous if they encounter high, fast-moving water while traveling. If people are at their homes, the water may rise quickly and trap them or cause damage to the property without them having a chance to protect the property.
Flash flood can often cause the loss of lives to the effected people. Flash flood is not a new thing in Malaysia where we see this happening almost throughout the year at different parts of Malaysia. During end of July last year, five districts in Selangor were affected with flash floods while in early November, Seremban in Negeri Sembilan was hit with flash floods after a heavy downpour for almost a whole day.
Tan Soon Yan, 57, a victim from Seremban who faced flash floods last year said the continuous heavy rain which started in the early morning of last November was extraordinary and unprecedented.
“It was raining the whole day earlier. We were already worried when we saw that the water levels at the nearby river was high. At 2 am, we started seeing water enter into our house through the main door. We panicked and quickly carried our important documents and kept them at a higher place. The water level was up to our waist.”
For retiree Parimjit Singh, 62, said that, “The last time we were hit with floods this bad was around 12 years ago. My wife and I couldn’t do much when the water started rising, it was just too fast. We could just keep ourselves safe and see our things get damaged. Our beds, chairs and cupboards are all damaged because of the muddy water.”
Many Malaysian have probably faced floods at least once in their lifetime. So what exactly are we suppose to do to survive flash floods?
First of all, do not walk, swim or drive through the flood waters. Walking or swimming in flood waters can cause drowning if the current is too strong and driving through flood water can cause your car to be swept away with strong currents.
Secondly, evacuate if you are told to do so. Don’t be stubborn and decide to stay at home. This can cause danger to yourself as you don’t know how high the water can get. Authorities in charge will take you to a safer place or relief centres. Other than that, you can also try to move to a higher ground or floor in your house. Carry any important documents that you need to with you.
Next, turn off utilities at the main switches or valves. Disconnect all electrical appliances. Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.
Do not try to safe your belongings such as chairs, tables and so on. Keep yourself safe first. Lastly, if your area is often flooded, be prepared and have an emergency plan. Assemble an emergency kit in case you need to evacuate. Don't forget to include necessary prescription medications and a small first aid kit.
Flash floods can also cause deaths if not taken seriously. Hence, it is important for all of us to know what steps need to be taken if we are ever faced with such situations. Keeping yourself and your loved ones safe during flash floods should be the outmost important thing for us.