Huge storms can destroy your home and level your neighbourhood, but even after they pass, flooding presents unique dangers you might not be aware of. Even walking through water, it turns out, can kill you. Take precautions and learn everything about staying safe in floodwater now, before the storm hits.
A low pressure system is building in Australia and is set to dump two months' worth of rain on Sydney and surrounds in less than a day. As if this wasn't enough, the area is set to be buffeted by intense and dangerous winds for the second time in as many weeks, and flash flooding is expected in some areas. Here's what you need to know if you live in NSW.
It’s grim to think about, but on the other hand, a little preparedness might save your life. On subreddit LifeProTips, user u/daynanfighter explained why it’s best to use a little boat to get from place to place, even if it seems like the flooding is walkable:
For those in flooded areas, use extreme caution when walking on streets and footpaths. Manhole covers are often forced off by the flood and can be extremely dangerous as people can fall in, get trapped, and drown.
I’m from New Orleans where flooding is common. Rising water in sewers offen moves manhole covers(openings to the sewer) creating a very dangerous situation especially when water is being pumped through the sewers (as in during a flood). It creates underground rivers and people fall in and drown.
Use a boat whenever possible while crossing flooded urban areas and use extreme caution when walking.
They also recommended bring not only food and water, but an axe if you’re fleeing to the top level of your home — if the flooding is bad enough you could drown in your attic with no way to escape. If you don’t think you could hack through your own roof, consider the potential that the water might get higher before going to an upper story.
In the comments, people shared other hidden dangers to be aware of when traversing a flooded neighbourhood, including snakes. User u/how-about-no-bitch gave a very in-depth analysis of how dangerous waterlogged snakes actually are, and a reminder to be aware in general of wildlife. They say snakes are for the most part trying to escape as well, so just stay out of their way. Here’s how:
Just be aware of your surroundings and watch where you put your fingers and opening doors. Be careful around thick brush or low hanging branches. This is relevant to any flooding. You are going to see a whole lot of animals you didn’t realise were nearby. Also. For fucks sake watch out for fire ant floating islands. They will be more likely to fuck up your day more than most other animals.
Other important mentions: The flood is almost certainly not composed of fresh running rainwater. It’s a mix of water and sewage, which means you could easily make yourself very ill while wading in it. Also, keep in mind downed power lines. Several people wrote they knew of folks who had been electrocuted while trying to escape their homes.
Large bodies of water, even brand new ones created on your street, often have currents that could sweep you away. There will also be sudden rising waters at times, so what seemed traversable will be suddenly much less so. But, if you must walk through, use a probe ahead of you and cover up as much as possible to keep contaminated water out, according to u/NoyzMaker:
Don’t walk in flood waters at all unless you have boot or hip waders to keep all the water off your person. Most of that water is contaminated and a simple cut or scratch can easily get infected.
Also always use a walking stick or other type of “probe” to test the stability of the space in front of you. Will keep you from getting stuck in sudden mud or open manhole covers like OP mentions since even something small like a water meter cover getting lifted can catch you off guard and twist your ankle.
The general message: don’t walk around unless you absolutely have to.