11. What to do in case of a flood?

In order to adequately respond and avoid panic in the event of flooding, it is necessary to be prepared in advance so that everybody knows what to do.
Firstly, people must be aware of whether the areas where they live are at risk of flooding, as well as the possible causes thereof. 

Secondly, it is very important for people in flood-risk areas to take out flood insurance.

Thirdly, plans for individual protective action against the risk of flooding must be prepared.

Steps for personal protection include:

Prior to flooding and during the alert: 

  • proper acquaintance with flood protection plans;
  • the local authorities start to implement certain aspects of the protection plans: informing the population in danger, stepping up monitoring of the areas at risk and reminding people of the danger signs and warning signals, etc.;
  • evaluate if you need to secure the car or other property: it can be dangerous;
  • if you need to evacuate, first evaluate the path and avoid flood prone areas;
  • when ordered to evacuate, do so without delay so as to avoid subsequent danger. Leaving the threatened zone on your own at a later stage is very dangerous;
  • if you have poisonous or other hazardous substances, ask experts what to do with them. If you have time, store paint, pesticides, fertilizers and other hazardous materials in plastic buckets off the floor;
  • move furniture and electrical appliances upstairs.

During flooding:

  • listen to information and instructions broadcast on radio and TV;
  • try to stay calm, avoid panic;
  • in the event of sudden flooding or if you believe a flood is approaching your home (based on water level, build-up of rain clouds, heavy rainfall or your home’s location next to a spring), move immediately to higher ground without waiting for instructions to do so; this has to be your own decision;
  • it should be remembered that spring valleys (even when dry), canyons, gullies and drainage canals are the most dangerous places in the event of sudden floods;
  • do not go through road underpasses;
  • if you are on holiday you should know the relevant advice and adhere to the instructions of the local authorities. Experience shows that the largest losses are usually suffered by tourists;
  • if you are in the flooded area:
    • go to the top floor; climb onto the roof if necessary;
    • if you are in a forest, climb onto a tall tree;
    • if you are in water, try to move to a dry zone;
    • if you are in fast-moving water, do not move against the flow or with the flow, but move at an angle to the flow in a shoreward direction.
  • if you have been given instructions to evacuate, proceed as follows
    • if you have time, move essential items to the top floor;
    • turn off the electricity, water and gas as instructed (do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water);
    • if you have time, board up the front door and the windows.
    • do not cross any moving water; if you have to, check the depth of the water in front of you with a stick;
    • do not drive your car through flooded areas, and if the water level around the car starts rising leave the car immediately and move to higher ground. 
  • if you have to remain in your home during the flood:
    • listen to the information on radio and TV continuously;
    • stay on an upper floor if possible;
    • put all documents, money, valuables and most important medicines in a suitable bag;

After flooding:

  • after evacuation, you can return to your home only if permitted by the local authorities;
  • Do not pass along flooded roads: there may be chasms, potholes, open manholes or severed wires. In addition, water may be contaminated by fuel or other substances
  • Pay attention to areas where the water has receded: the road surface may be weakened and collapse
  • open the doors and windows and ventilate the house;
  • do not turn on the electricity until the electrical system has been examined by an expert;
  • examine the gas system;
  • do not use unchecked water or food.

Within the framework of the Italian Projest IONONRISCHIO, which means “I do not risk”,  a card containing useful information on  the behaviour to adopt in case during the alert, during and after a flood was prepared and the card can be downloaded at: http://www.iononrischio.it/download/2018_inglese/SCHEDA_ALLUVIONE_ING.pdf