10 Tips For Survival In A Flood

Flood Piicture

What follows are 10 tips for survival in a flood situation. I am currently in a real flood situation in the Bangkok November 2011 floods at the time of writing this blog post and I have included tips that I am finding useful. The picture is from the road outside of where I am staying.

1) Plenty of Water

Before the flood arrives, stock up on plenty of water – I have stocked up on a 2 week supply of water. Sewage is coming through some people’s taps here as I speak, so you’ll need drinking water as well as water to wash in to remain comfortable. Store the water in a shaded place as it will keep longer. Boil up any water you are not sure of to be extra safe if you think that it may be out of date. Yes, cold countries may laugh at this, but in hot countries water goes out of date faster. After a flood warning it is better to overreact and get too many supplies in than being scared of overreacting and  waiting until the last minute. The shops around this area ran out of water very quickly and shops are not re-stocking as they are afraid of looters or their delivery trucks being stuck in the flood.

2) Electricity – The Biggest Killer

In this particular flood, most people I hear about are being killed by electric current in the water. Two people that I know of close by have been electrocuted this week alone. If flooding comes into your home make sure the downstairs electrics are turned off. Get to know your fusebox. I have labelled up every fuse, so I can turn off the downstairs electrics quickly if needed.

3) Test The Water

If water has entered your house and you have switched off all of the electrics downstairs. It’s still not enough. You will need to test the water to be absolutely sure. If possible use equipment to test the water. A good idea is to buy a simple electrical current tester in advance, if a flood is heading toward your area. If you have no equipment you can test the water by very, very, lightly touching the water with the back of your hand – not the front of your hand. You will feel a tingling sensation if there is an electrical current in the water, or your hand will be thrown back. If you test the water with the front of your hand your hand will tense up and be under water. The best possible way is to first test it with equipment and then give the water the ‘back of the hand’ test to be absolutely sure. If you are unlucky enough to find yourself having to turn off the electrics at the fusebox with water already in your house – stand on something non-conductive or wear rubber wellies. Don’t use your hand to touch the fuse switches, use a piece of wood or rolled up newspaper etc. Anything non-conductive.

4) Keep All Empty Bottles

Keep all empty water bottles. You can use the bottles for storing washing water from tap water that might not be available during the flood if you have time to prepare. They can also act as floats if you have to make a raft out of your cupboard doors etc.

5) Electrical Tape, Rope, Torch & Batteries

If you can, get in a good supply of electrical tape and rope. The rope can help in many ways, such as making rafts etc. Down the road I spotted people living in a bungalow that has roped up their motorbike and T.V. set and hoisted it up off of ground level. Yes, it looks weird, but it works. With electrical tape you can seal bottles 100% as well as many other uses which your imagination comes up with in flood emergency situations. The torch and batteries are obvious must haves. If you can, by a boat or a rubber dingy in advance too. If you wait until the flood comes, unscrupulous individuals looking to profit from the flood will then sell you a boat for 2 times the usual amount, or more. Candles are also a good idea as well as battery powered hand fans for hot countries and many layers of clothes in cold countries in case the electricity goes out.

6) Plastic Bags

Plastic bags can be used with the electrical tape for filling up with tap water before the flood arrives for water for washing. This way you can save your drinking water. I am using bin bags and need 3 bin bags to ensure no leaks to store water in them. You can also use the bin bags for going to the toilet, if the toilet in your bathroom doesn’t work anymore.

7) Don’t Rely On The News Too Much

Don’t rely too much on the news as they usually report from the worst affected area for shock value to sell newspapers etc. Also, beware of rumours that are sometimes exaggerated. Just the other day the newspaper reported that my area would not flood, but now it’s flooded. Instead, ring friends up in different areas around you to get the real lowdown on whether it’s flooding or not.

8 ) Collect Emergency Numbers And Prepare An Evacuation Plan + Beware Of Thieves

Collect as many emergency help numbers as you can and top your mobile phone up and charge it up fully before any blackout. Prepare an evacuation plan in advance for if it gets really bad. You can either box up your valuables and take them with you or hide them (not always effective but better than nothing) from thieves that may take advantage of your situation and empty house. Be extra on guard for burglars and thieves as these people are either stone-cold hearted and want to take advantage or they are people that are desperate for money because they are flood victims themselves. In the current flood situation I am in there are many thefts and burglaries going on. One guy on a news interview said that his road had many thieves but the police cannot get there in time to help. It is usually against the law to carry a weapon to protect yourself and authorities usually give some weak advice like ‘don’t resist’, or if you’re in England ‘say if you know a martial art 3 times, then make a controlled citizens’ arrest with little to no force, upstairs in your home, but not downstairs’ . . . yeah right . . . lol. Well I’m certainly not going to just stand there and let someone break into my home and maybe do even worst things than just rob me, so I personally have opted to have a few surprises in store for anyone trying to mug me or steal from me.

9) Use Sandbags Wisely

In the flood situation I am in, sand bags were all the rage to start with. However, people quickly realised that sand bags just slow the flooding down instead of stopping it. If you cannot protect your house with the amount of sandbags you may be rationed to (30 per house in this situation) which is the case with me, you can use the sandbags to build ramps to elevate your car instead. Many people have built stone walls around their houses as it is the only real effective way to keep water out.

10) Be Ready For The Unexpected

Lastly, every flood situation has unique problems, so be ready for the inevitable problems and complications specifically related to your flood. For instance, there were reports of crocodiles swimming into Bangkok from the floods coming down from the north. I initially thought that this was a joke, until someone up the road from us took a picture of a crocodile swimming past her gate. In this particular flood the water doesn’t flow into an area, instead it comes up from the ground which can catch you off guard if you’re not careful as it creeps up. At present, 60 percent of taxis have gone in the non-flooded areas nearby, all high-rise car parks are full, including the hospital car parks and there are even reports of leprosy concerns because of the sewage water rising. I had a boat in advance but lent it out to friends in a worse affected area, so I no longer have a boat. However, I don’t regret this as the flood water in that area is much worse than here. Be ready for unexpected kindness too, from neighbours you might not have spoken to much before pulling together to help each other for instance.

Update: In all the floods lasted 2 weeks. I was fed up with noodles and tuna after the floods passed. The real threat was mainly from the increase in thieves arrising from the floods and electrocution. There were two people around the area that died through electrocution which was very sad. It is now, at the time of this update a year after the floods.

Article by Kevin Baker


An excellent site for preparing for disasters run by Arthur Bradley can be reached through this link.

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  1. Remember to stock up on water especially – more than you plan to. As then you can use the extra surplus supplies to help out neighbours and friends who have chosen to sit it out and protect their homes. My neighbours I helped with supplies and they helped me get my car up to higher ground by letting me park in their more elevated driveway. Things like that transform a neighbourly relationship into a real friendship, with neither of you forgetting such kindness. You can do so much on your own in a disaster, but after a certain point you need to forge alliances and face hardships and threats in numbers. Luckily, the flood for me back in 2011 only left me cut off for 2 weeks. Any longer and I would have to have found an alternative plan involving teaming up with other people to reach safety.

    Special thanks to the Thai Navy and the Red Cross who were so helpful in the 2011 flood. The Red Cross offered me water about a week before we were stranded, but as we were stocking up I said ‘Thank you but never mind as there are people worse affected in different areas’, and I had a friend who was in a worse affected area who had a tooth infection that had gone untreated for a week – the Thai Navy pulled him out of shoulder height flood water and took him to a non-flooded area. He’d ran out of cash to even pay people who were running errands buying and delivering supplies by boat to and from flooded and non-fllooded areas.

    Lastly, beware of cold-hearted profiteers, they start setting up all sorts of money making operations near you to take advantage of your dire situation. I personally felt like punching one guy who tried to sell me a boat at 3 times the normal price, just so he could cash in on the plight. He looked so proud that he could sell his homemade boats at 3 times the profit, it was sad to see that he had no shame or understanding of how heartless he genuinely was. I saw only the excitement and joy of a money making opportunity in his face.

  2. Also, if there are no regulations in the country you are in to stop shops hiking up prices, be prepared. Water was selling at 4 times the usual amount from certain stores that remained open in the floods. Not all stores will close down due to looters, some stores will protect and guard their property, raise the prices to the max and take full advantage of you, and if you don’t have cash around (because ATMs start to disappear because it’s too risky to have them standing around in a high risk areas) then you’ll have to find alternative ways to find water and food if you get desperate. So, a good idea may be to hide hard cash in a place in your home. Somewhere nobody would look, such as taped to the bottom of a microwave, underneath the soil in a cactus pot plant or somewhere else obscure.

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