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Stay safe! 5 key tips on surviving flash floods

By Winnie Mabel November 19th, 2023 2 min read

The Kenya Meteorological Department has been consistently updating Kenyans on weather patterns in the country since it was announced that El-Nino rains are expected in the last quarter of 2023.  Persistent high, heavy rainfall has been noted in most parts of the country and this week, the Met Department announced that isolated storms will also be likely in Central highlands, south eastern lowlands, Coast, Western and north eastern Kenya regions.

In some counties, mudslides have been reported in Mount Kenya region while flash floods have been noted as river banks break. Floods, and instances of human error in crossing roads flooded with raging water, have been noted in Mombasa, Meru, Samburu, Turkana and Isiolo among other counties. Videos continue to emerge of homes submerged in water, roads rendered impassable while heavy transportation vehicles either tip over when crossing certain flooded bridges or get stuck in the middle of the floods.

Flash floods are sudden, local floods caused by heavy rainfall. They are characterized by raging currents that rip through everything including river banks, urban streets and sweep away everything in its path. They tend to occur within minutes or a few hours after heavy, excessive rainfall. Nairobi News now lists five crucial tips everyone must note in surviving flash floods whether as primary or secondary victims:

First, before leaving your home, now that El Nino influenced rains are falling in Kenya, make sure to first check on the weather updates for the day and if the routes you will take are in flash-flood prone areas. This will prevent you from finding yourself in trouble especially if you can’t handle yourself around large water bodies.

Secondly, should you come across a flash flood, do not attempt to walk or drive though the flood waters. Turn around and find the highest ground possible and stay there until the flash flood subsides. Do not let your curiosity get the best of you and stand around to watch or record the water on your phone. You must actively avoid being near the raging waters because a slip into the water may be the difference between you staying alive and drowning.

Thirdly…if you do fall into the water, do not swim against the waters. Do a swift water rescue technique such as pointing your feed downstream (where the flood waters are rushing to) and float on your back. If you are able to hold onto a sturdy floating object nearby, either hold onto it to keep your head above the water or climb up on it if it is large enough to accommodate you.

Fourth, If your home gets submerged in flood waters, immediately turn off all your utilities including electricity mains, your electrical appliances and your gas. Turning off the electricity mains and appliances will stop the likelihood of electricity charging up the water and you ending up getting electrocuted.

And last, but not least, if you have a charged phone at hand, keep in communication with your neighbors and family. At the same time, you can use the phone to research online on how to save the life of someone in the event they are submerged in water, are injured by obstacles carried along by the flash flood or suffer mental and health problems and would need assistance. Rescue services may be hampered but it does not mean you cannot do your part in rescuing those trapped or injured.

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