Floods

Floods are one of the most frequent natural hazards in Poland and many regions of the world. If the flooded area hasn’t been evacuated, or the water gets into a home, workplace or stays there after the flood, people might be injured or killed. A flood is a temporary overflow of water to land that’s usually dry. It arises as a result of water gathering in natural watercourses, canals and seas, causing the danger to the human life and health, the environment, cultural heritage and economic activity. The flood destroys houses, farms, crops and roads. Water and the flooded area are both contaminated.

Before

• Get familiar with a flood risk in your area
• If there’s a local flood risk, monitor potential signs such as heavy rain
• Prepare a personal evacuation backpack for each family member in case of being forced to leave immediately or if supplies are cut off. Remember the specific needs of each person, including medications. Don’t forget the animals’ needs. Get extra batteries and charging devices for phones and other critical equipment
• Get the necessary supplies of perishable food and clean water in your house. Secure light sources – flashlights, candles, spare batteries
• Keep important documents in a waterproof container. Create copies, including digital ones, protected by password
• Create Family emergency and Communication plans
• If possible, send children and the elderly to a safe place: family or friends
• Protect your property. Secure the lower parts of the house from water, prepare sandbags, remove vehicles from the property, relocate them
• Remove all toxic substances such as pesticides and insecticides from the vicinity
• Make sure the family members are aware of how to turn off the house’s main electricity, gas and water supplies
• If you have animals, find a safe place for them. Remember that when the flood comes, they shouldn’t be tied up and should be able to save themselves, if necessary. Preferably: let them evacuate preventively
• Check if you have a valid insurance policy and if it covers the risk and consequences of flooding
• Monitor the weather and emergency forecasts

During

• When a sudden flood hazard occurs, turn off the main power, gas and water supply, close the sewage system gates (valves), plug the sewage drains and seal the septic tank
• Keep a mobile phone close
• Turn on the radio at the local radio station for the latest information. Usually, the radio also provides information about the danger and the way to proceed
• Prepare for an evacuation. Remember that adults shouldn’t carry more than 50 kg of luggage
• Keep emergency backpack for each family member (store them in an easily accessible place)
• Don’t use well water or ground water in your household
• In case of danger, move immediately to the higher ground
• If you’re trapped in a building, head to its highest level. Don’t enter an attic as you may be trapped by rising floodwater. Go to the roof only if necessary and call for help
• If you have been asked to evacuate, do it immediately. The children should have a piece of paper with their name and contact details to their guardians. Listen carefully to the services and follow their instructions
• Use the Family emergency plan, leave a message at an agreed place
• If you had to leave your home, sign up at the evacuation’s registration desk so that your family can find you more easily
• If you’re driving your car and you stuck in a flooded area, leave the vehicle quickly. Drive only on the roads designated by the authorities in case of emergency. Avoid bridges over fast moving water. The water can wash them away without warning
• Don’t walk, swim or pass through the floodwater
• Stay calm, be reasonable and keep a sober mind
• Try to help others, including the rescue workers

After

• Listen to the radio and TV news. Don’t return home until the authorities have declared it safe and the drinking water supply, improved sewage system and waste disposal have been restored
• Stay out of the reach of flood waters for as long as possible, check the foundations of the house for cracks or other damage, make sure the building isn’t in danger of collapse, and if in doubt, report it to the building supervision, local authorities and the insurance company
• Do a thorough building inspection and photographic documentation
• Check the electrical and gas installation with specialist help, beware of the risk of electric shock. Don’t touch electrical appliances if they’re wet or stand in the water. If it’s safe to do so, turn off the power to prevent electric shock
• Avoid wading in floodwater that may contain hazardous components and be contaminated
• If possible, join flood relief assistance
• Start pumping water from basements when the water level on the ground is lower than the water level in the basement. Pump out the water gradually not to damage the foundations
• Disinfect flooded rooms with lime milk, ventilate, dry and paint (especially if you store food, prepare meals or if there’re children inside). Move away the furniture from the walls, at least 20 cm and lift it at least 5 cm from the floor
• Disinfect flooded wells and water intakes with chlorinated lime to avoid infectious diseases. Similarly, dry and disinfect toilets, bathrooms and sanitary facilities
• Use only boiled water to brush your teeth, rinse your fruit and drink
• Take special care of hygiene – work with rubber gloves on, wash your hands in a clean water
• Throw away all food that has come into contact with floodwater, and use only bottled water or water delivered in barrels for drinking water
• If your property was insured, contact your insurer as soon as possible and find out what you need to do to get compensation. A quick report may allow you to plan your claims
• Apply for financial assistance to your local or municipal social welfare center