In April 2022 heavy rains battered the coastline and inland region of KwaZulu-Natal, resulting in a wave of deadly flooding in the area that was subsequently declared a national state of disaster. Homes were destroyed and critical infrastructure was severely impacted by the inclement weather conditions, which have been estimated to have caused R17 billion in damage. To date, it has been confirmed that 435 people lost their lives. Many of these victims were caught in flood-related accidents, like mudslides. Bloom Financial Services, together with their trusted medical partner, Momentum Health4Me, discuss the best way to stay safe during a flood.
What is a flood?
Flooding is the deadliest kind of natural disasters. It’s usually caused by heavy rainfall within a short period of time, resulting in rivers and dams overflowing. The overflow submerges land that is otherwise dry. The effects of a flood can be catastrophic and long-lasting. Roads, telecommunication services, bridges, power and water supplies can all be adversely affected which means the dislocation of a normal life long after the floodwaters have abated.
Flood safety tips: how to stay safe during a flood
There are several types of flood safety measures you can take to ensure your safety. Some of these are preemptive measures you can take to decrease your risk of damage to your home while others are reactionary in case of an emergency. Take a look at these safety tips:
- Flood-proof your home
We suggest you prepare for a flood by having an emergency plan. Consider elevating high-risk items, especially your wiring which will decrease the risk of electrocution. If you have a garden, consider landscaping your yard to assist if there is a flash flood. Embankments and trenches can direct water away from your home and thick shrubs or hedges can slow water down. Ensure that you have adequate drainage in your driveway and that your gutters are kept free of debris to prevent overflow or a blockage. Keep a torch and spare batteries on hand in case there’s a problem with the electricity and stock up on some non-perishable food items. Finally, invest in a good-quality sealant in your home to ensure that doors and windows do not leak.
- During the flood
If your primary concern is how to stay safe during a flood, we can confirm that it’s best to avoid the floodwaters by remaining in your home and by having an emergency home plan you can execute.
- Keep a first-aid kit in your home that stocks all the necessary medication and tools you might need in a medical emergency.
- Print out a list of emergency contact numbers, including the local authorities and community associations that might have valuable information.
- Charge your phone while you are able to do so in case you lose power. It might also be useful to invest in a power bank.
- Place personal documents and other valuables in waterproof bags.
- Pack an evacuation bag with clothing and essentials in case the authorities request that you vacate your home.
- Switch off electrical appliances.
- Place sandbags around your home or in areas where floodwater could seep into.
- After the flood
Remember that it is still dangerous after a flood as property and infrastructure have been damaged.
- Be mindful of contaminated water, which could be unsafe to drink. Boil water or use bottled water.
- Check with authorities before turning on your power and electrical appliances.
- Check that the drainage on your property is in good working order.
- Remove fallen branches and other debris from your property.
- Stay up-to-date with weather warnings from the local and provincial authorities.
How to stay safe during a flood if you’re in your car
Some people may face the unfortunate circumstance of being on the road when a flash flood hits. Be mindful of the fact that visibility is severely compromised during these heavy downpours so you are advised to decrease your speed and keep a longer than normal following distance from the car in front of you. Aquaplaning is a great risk during this time, which could cause you to lose control of your vehicle. If you feel that you need to stop, pull over at a garage but avoid stopping on the side of the highway or under a bridge.
If you come to an area of the road that is underwater, be aware of your car’s limitations and the power of water. It only takes .6 metres of water to float a car so you could easily be washed away if the water is flowing fast enough. If your vehicle is washed off the road, don’t panic. You are advised to vacate the vehicle as quickly as possible. Remove your seatbelt, roll down the window and exit the car before the car fills with water. Once you are out, you can wade or swim to a safe location.
What Bloom can do to help?
The Health4Me major medical events benefit can assist should you or a family member suffer a medical emergency as a result of a natural disaster, like a flood. This will cover the transportation, stabilisation and treatment costs at a private hospital facility. If you require medical advice but are unable to get to your local GP, you can make use of the HelloDoctor teleservice that is available, free of charge, for members. Get the right emergency medical information your need from a qualified doctor, nurse or healthcare professional, in real-time, without having to leave your home during this unsafe period. Simply phone and request a doctor’s callback or send an SMS for a text answer. The turnaround time for a response is about one hour.
Get a Momentum Health4Me health insurance quote
Bloom and Momentum Health4Me prioritise your safety. Keep safe during a flood by following these flood safety tips. Get health insurance cover with Bloom Financial Services that will ensure you will have access to top-quality emergency medical services and day-to-day benefits if you require them. Contact our team of trained consultants for affordable comprehensive health insurance.
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You understand and acknowledge that all users of the Bloom Financial Services website are responsible for their own medical care, treatment, and oversight. All content provided on the website, is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Neither is it intended to be a substitute for an independent professional medical opinion, judgement, diagnosis or treatment.