By: Zamir Hussain Laghari
A report by UK-based relief and development agency, Christian Aid, warns that by 2060 more than a billion people worldwide will live in cities at risk of catastrophic flooding as a result of climate change.
It says the US, China and India are among the countries most threatened.
In Asia, we have been observing regular and unusual floods across the region in monsoon for past few years. It’s because the climate pattern almost all over the world has changed.
Pakistan is also gravely affected by global warming, El Nino (ocean warming) and other phenomena. Here, rain-triggered flash floods leave behind a trail of destruction, hundreds dead and thousands homeless every year.
But instead of realigning the plans, policies and activities to better prepare for disaster risk reduction and disaster management at every level, our authorities don’t learn the lesson. They seem to be ill-prepared every time when floods hit the country from northern areas to Sindh and Balochistan.
Recently, a news report on Samaa revealed that country’s Met Office is making wrong predictions since the only flood warning radar system installed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has become obsolete.
This is just a tip of the iceberg. The apathy is much more than it is reported, multiplying people’s loss and misfortune in the natural calamities.
The state of extreme ruin and damage takes people years to rehabilitate, and sometimes become irremediable, but the ruling class, which remains safe and sound in such tragedies, fails to realize it.
Although government’s rescue and relief institutions kick off their work in the disasters and catastrophes, they could not be completely relied upon. One must think that self-help could only be the solution to stay secure.
People living in vulnerable areas should be ready and adopt precautionary measures in order to avoid loss of their lives or properties when warning or alerts are issued about a possible calamity or extreme weather condition, such as flash floods, urban flooding, rainstorm and cyclone.
We have suggested some measures to stay safe in any natural calamity:
– To prepare for a flood, you should not construct you house in flood prone areas.
– Make sure cleanliness and water disposal from the roof top of the houses and walls shall be coated and plastered.
– To avoid seepage in building, seal your basement walls before flooding.
– If a flood is likely to hit your area, you should listen to the radio or television for information as disaster management authorities share all updates with media.
– Be aware that flash flooding can occur if heavy rainfall continues for several hours. In this case, people living in plane areas should move immediately to higher grounds.
– In case of flood, do not sit near mud and houses in poor condition.
– If you are occupant of an old and dangerous building, vacate it immediately. If you have already been warned or notified by local building control authority over your dilapidated building, don’t ignore this notice.
– Remaining in your home or business during flooding is dangerous and may put your life at risk.
– Those live in mud houses immediately shift to a safer place in case of heavy rain, and flash flooding, especially in mountainous region.
– Try to stock all necessary articles including food items, medicines, clean drinking water, torch, batteries, matches, kerosene oil etc.
– Before evacuation, secure your home. If you have time, move furniture and essential items to an upper floor.
– You can also take along your NIC, ATM card etc to help you get government’s compensation in case there is a situation of getting accommodation in flood relief camps for a long time period.
– Before leaving the house, turn off utilities at the main switches or valves. Disconnect electrical appliances. Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.
– Return home only when authorities indicate it is safe.
– Keep away from electricity poles. Take extra care while using electronic appliances during rain/thunderstorm.
– During storm and heavy rain, keep away from sign boards, poles and trees.
– Take precaution while walking and driving vehicles on stagnant water of flood and rain to avoid falling into any ditch or pit.
– Pay special attention to the elderly, children, ladies and handicapped people with you.
– Comply with all directives issued from the government in order to stay updated on news regarding rain and flood situation. It’s vital for your safety to know about what’s going on in the area or region, or what the government is deciding about rescue, relief, compensation, shifting or rehabilitation of the affectees etc.
– Keep contact numbers of government authorities (Provincial Disaster Management Authority, National Disaster Management Authority, district commissioners, Union Council chairman), police station, NGOs etc, in case of any emergency.
– Do not drive into flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely. You and the vehicle can be swept away quickly.
– Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams, rivers or creeks, particularly during threatening conditions.
– Don’t eat anything damp due to the rain as it may cause disease like diarrhea etc.
– Avoid floodwaters; water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline or raw sewage.
– Get all necessary vaccinations from your local health center in order to stay safe from pandemics.
– Plan tour to hilly region according to information given by weather department or news channel. Keep in view the rainy season, specially the monsoon spell, or snowfall season before heading to remote mountainous areas.
– Listen for unusual sounds such as trees cracking or boulders knocking together.
– Stay alert, awake and active during the impact or probability of impact of the landslide.
– Locate any shelter and go there to stay safe. Try to stay with your family and companions.
– Check for injured and trapped persons and their first aid.
[The author is an online journalist, likes research and writing on social issues, culture, tourism and international affairs.]