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Apr 23
How to survive a flood and flood safety tips

How to Survive a Flood, Overlooked & Essential

Safety Tips


2017 and 2019 brought large scale and many record-breaking floods across Canada, the United States, and the rest of the world. How to survive a flood, and knowing what to do before and during a flood are becoming essential knowledge. Many of the deaths that occur are preventable with these flood safety tips. 

In this new era of climate change, it is integral for people to be proactive about their safety. This can be done by developing increased situational awareness, learning self-reliance skills, and making a conscious effort to adapt and thrive as the world changes. The Changing World Community is here to help! 

Did you hear about (or experience) 2019's massive flood in the states? Here is one person's account and a summary on lessons learned.


A New Normal

Although massive floods have occurred since the beginning of time, several variables are causing larger floods to happen more frequently. Massive floods may be the new normal around the globe. Three of the leading variables include:

1. Climate Change - one of the main predictions is increased rainfall in certain parts of the world.

2. Human Development & Poor Landscape Design - a reduction in wetlands, loss of forests, and soil being developed and paved over, lead to less ground absorption and thus more flooding.

3. Reduction in Government Spending - Here in Ontario, Canada, the Provincial Government has cut spending on services that help control water levels across the province as well as funding for emergency preparedness and prevention. Similar trends have been occurring in the United States.

This year, along with billions of dollars in damage, there have also been several deaths due to the floods. Some of them were preventable.

The below video discusses some of the often unknown hazards associated with flooding and how you can keep yourself and family safe. Below the video are several less known flood safety tips to consider along with a flood preparedness checklists to help you survive a flood and be better prepared for climate change.


Flood Survival & Preparedness


1) Heighten Your Everyday Situational Awareness

During the 2019 floods, several people died from roads collapsing while they drove over them. There was no flagging tape marking the hazard or road closure sign.

As much as we may expect governments to notice the danger in the road before it becomes an accident, history and thousands of case studies show us this is just not reality.

Below is a picture I took of a road being washed out from underneath. You can see the pressure cracks starting to form. It is an accident waiting to happen. What was a little mind-boggling to me was that I witnessed car after car drive over it without slowing down or showing any awareness of this quickly developing hazard.

What to do during a flood

The signs were there in nature, you need to choose to be aware of them. In our rapidly changing world and climate, there are consequences to not being aware of your surroundings and assuming the government can protect you from all hazards.

At Changing World we believe people need to take some ownership for their own safety and well being. To be the highly alert, skilled, and addable beings that humans are designed to be. Remember our ancestors lived amongst grizzly bears, lions, and natural disasters. They did so effectively without bright flagging tape, helmets, and most of the safety infrastructure we now have in place. 

Want support in developing your situational awareness?

Try the free first lesson from our Survive the Storms video training for free. It comes with a free audio track to help you start mapping both hazards and resources in your community while expanding your awareness and ability to read the signs of the natural world. 

If you do try it, please come back and leave a comment about what you learned from the activity!


2) Be Aware of Hidden Hazards.

With an excess of water in the landscape, many new hazards are created, and some of them are often unknown until it is too late. Here are a few important ones to consider:

Electrically charged flood waters - Electrical shock is a common cause of deaths during floods. Downed wires in the street can create a deadly electrical current in the surrounding waters. A flooded basement can also become charged from damaged wires or a wall socket under the flood waters if the power is still on.

Practice situational awareness and make sure your kids know to stay out of the basement and away from flood waters!

Toxins & Debris in Water - I often see people wading through floodwaters in their regular clothing. In some cases, this may be unavoidable, such as escaping a car trapping in the currents.

Remember these flood waters may be a toxic slurry of chemicals, heavy metals, and more, acquired from the surrounding landscape. There also could be sharp objects under the water you can not see.

Severe infections and even chronic illness can be a result of exposure to flood waters. If you have to contact them, take extra precautions to protect your skin, eyes, ears, nose, and midsection.

Avoid moving through flood waters at all costs, and if you have too, practice situational awareness and watch for these new threats.

The Survive the Storms eCourse goes into more details in learning about these new emerging threats and how to protect yourself. 


3) Too Much Water & Not Enough

During a flood, it is common to focus on the threat of excess of water. However, one serious problem people often face during/after a flood is not enough water. Even with all that H2O flowing through, there can be limited access to clean drinking water and water for sanitation and hygiene. The rest of the water around you has been contaminated by the toxic environment mentioned above. 

Do the following things Before the Flood:

  • Fill your bathtub to the top 
  • Fill freezer bags with water and use them to fill empty space in your freezer. Now, these can be melted for clean water, and they will also help keep your freezer cold longer if the power goes out.
  • We recommend having a 5-gallon jug of water stored for every member of your family. Keep this in a crawl space or closet and forget about it until you need it.

Finding Clean Water During/After the Flood:

The water in your hot water tank should be the same water that comes out your taps and thus drinkable. Most hot water tanks have a valve and spout at the bottom that allows you to drain it manually without electricity.

The water in the basin behind the toilet should not have come in contact with your waste water yet. I’d purify it for safety measures, but this is also a source of clean water.

To learn how to catch rainwater from the land, check out this video on making an improvised water catchment system. 


4) Download our Flood Survival Checklist at the top of this article

Know what to do during a flood. In our flood preparedness checklist, we have a list of essential emergency items to keep in your car and home. 

We also have a list of other actions and tips to consider in knowing how to survive a flood and prepare for one.


Spread the Word to Those You Care About!!

Floods are a possibility everywhere, and we need to be prepared for more of them. Share and Comment below to keep the conversation growing. 

About the Author

Chris Gilmour is the creator of ChangingWorldProject.com He has a diverse background in the study of ecology, teaching traditional wilderness & urban survival, consulting in modern-day emergency and disaster preparedness and has a passion for self-reliance such as growing food and the martial arts.

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