What's new

Safety advice during flood season


Sep 20, 2008
This is a public safety message for all PDF members in Pakistan.

Well since NDMA and PDMA can't be bothered to do their job and promote community based disaster risk management and tweet or post public safety information, I have compiled this post to help during monsoon season and the resulting flooding. Please do read it, and if you find it useful, share it with others.

Introduction to Flooding

Many of us have this idea that floods (or flooding) is simply, too much water around your house. People think that can be fun. Wrong. Flooding is a lot more than that. Flooding is extremely dangerous and has the potential to wipe away an entire city, coastline or area, and cause extensive damage to life and property. It also has great erosive power and can be extremely destructive, even if it is a foot high.

What is a flood?
It is a natural event or occurrence where a piece of land (or area) that is usually dry land, suddenly gets submerged under water. Some floods can occur suddenly and recede quickly. Others take days or even months to build and discharge. When floods happen in an area that people live, the water carries along objects like houses, bridges, cars, furniture and even people. It can wipe away farms, trees and many more heavy items.

Each time there are more rains than the drainage system can take, there can be floods. Sometimes, there is heavy rain for a very short period that result in floods. In other times, there may be light rain for many days and weeks and can also result in floods.

River overflow
Rivers can overflow their banks to cause flooding. This happens when there is more water upstream than usual, and as it flows downstream to the adjacent low-lying areas (also called a floodplain), there is a burst and water gets into the land.

Strong winds in coastal areas
Sea water can be carried by massive winds and hurricanes onto dry coastal lands and cause flooding. Sometimes this is made worse if the winds carry rains themselves. Sometimes water from the sea resulting from a tsunami can flow inland to cause damage.

Dam breaking (raptured dam or levee)
(Embankments, known as levees, are built along the side of a river and are used to prevent high water from flooding bordering land). Dams are man-made blocks mounted to hold water flowing down from a highland. The power in the water is used to turn propellers to generate electricity. Sometimes, too much water held up in the dam can cause it to break and overflow the area. Excess water can also be intentionally released from the dam to prevent it from breaking and that can also cause floods.

Ice and snow-melts
In many cold regions, heavy snow over the winter usually stays un-melted for sometime. There are also mountains that have ice on top of them. Sometimes the ice suddenly melts when the temperature rises, resulting in massive movement of water into places that are usually dry. This is usually called a snowmelt flood

Flash floods
This kind occurs within a very short time (2-6 hours, and sometimes within minutes) and is usually as a result of heavy rain, dam break or snow melt. Sometimes, intense rainfall from slow moving thunderstorms can cause it. Flash floods are the most destructive and can be fatal, as people are usually taken by surprise. There is usually no warning, no preparation and the impact can be very swift and devastating.

Rapid on-set floods
Similar to flash floods, this type takes slightly longer to develop and the flood can last for a day or two only. It is also very destructive, but does not usually surprise people like Flash floods. With rapid on-set floods, people can quickly put a few things right and escape before it gets very bad.

Slow on-set floods
This kind is usually as a result of water bodies over flooding their banks. They tend to develop slowly and can last for days and weeks. They usually spread over many kilometres and occur more in flood plains (fields prone to floods in a low-lying areas). The effect of this kind of floods on people is more likely to be due to disease, malnutrition or snakebites.

Which areas are more likely to flood?


Flood Risk Map of Pakistan. Source: UN OCHA 2010

From the causes of floods and the types that we just read about, you can tell that floods are more likely to occur in some areas than others.
Generally, the natural behaviour of water (and flowing water) is that it moves from higher ground to lower ground. This means if there is a higher ground adjacent a lower ground, the lower ground is a lot more likely to experience floods.

Additionally, anywhere that rains fall, floods can develop. This is so because anytime there are more rains bringing more water than it can be drained or absorbed by the soil, there is a flood potential.

In many cities, there are buildings springing up in many places where they have not been authorized. Some of these building are placed in waterways. Other places also have very bad and chocked drainage systems. The danger is that, with the rains, water will find its own level if it cannot find its way.

The result is flooding and your home could be under water. Any plain low-lying area adjacent a river, lagoon or lake is also more likely to have floods anytime the water level rises. This includes coastal areas and shorelines, as seawater can easily be swept inland by strong winds, tides and tsunamis.

Fact: Out of all the natural hazards in the Pakistan, floods are the most common.

Source: UNIOVI - Dept of Medicine Unit for Research in Emergency and Disasters

Another fact? Prepping for one is a crucial part of emergency preparedness, even if you don’t live near any body of water. In this article, I talk about why you need to get ready for floods and what to do before, during, and after one.

Let’s get started:

Why should we prepare for floods?

Floods happen as a result of many things:

  • Heavy rains
  • Storm surges
  • Overflows of water systems like dams and sewers
  • They can either progress slowly or fast. Either way, you gotta gear up for them.

Yeah, you know what a flash flood can do. It can drown you and sweep away cars and trees. But don’t underestimate other types of floods just cause they don’t rise as fast. Even if you won’t drown from it, floodwater on its own is still dangerous.

It can carry:

  • Sewage
  • Chemical waste
  • Bacteria
  • Infectious diseases

You also don’t know what things can be hiding in it — manholes, sharp objects, and downed power lines may be waiting to catch you by surprise.


See why you need to take flooding seriously?

A colossal flood won’t only ruin buildings, your home, and your things. It can also have devastating consequences on your family and the rest of your community. What you do in the first 72 hours will play a big role in your survival, so prepping for it ahead is essential.

What to Do Before a Flood
Prepping for a flood is easier said than done, but with these steps to guide you, you can begin defending yourself and your family before the water surges.

Do Your Homework

Before anything else, find out what your area’s risk level is.

You can learn this from the Pakistan Met Department. They’re in charge of circulating flood watches and warnings. The PMD shares these on platforms like public radio, social media, and local TV channels.

You should also know the difference between a watch and a warning. A watch is broadcast when a flood is likely. On the other hand, a warning is issued when there’s a flood happening or about to occur.

Create an Emergency Plan
Let’s say you’re listening to the news when suddenly, you discover your area is under a flood watch. If that’s the case, then it’s time to put your emergency plan into action. This plan spells out the measures your household will take to survive the flood.

Please note: I have attached a Family Disaster Plan template in PDF in this post for you to download and use. This document is my own work so if you do share it please do attribute it to me, thank you.

It should include:
  • Steps for safeguarding your home
  • A checklist of survival supplies to prepare
  • Places to evacuate to
  • What to do if your family gets separated (e.g., where to meet, who to contact)
Don’t worry if these sound like a lot. I will go into detail about these items in the next sections so you won’t get lost.

Fortify Your Home
Your home is your castle. There’s no way you’re gonna let anyone or anything wreck it — even a flood. You need to strengthen your home to lessen damage to your property and belongings and also keep your family safe.

Here’s what you should do once a flood warning is issued:

  • Clear out your lawn. Take out any lawn furniture and remove debris and dead leaves.
  • Place whatever you can at the highest level of your home.
  • Stash important documents, family heirlooms, and other valuables in waterproof containers.
  • Add backflow valves to toilets, drains, and sewer connections. These valves keep floodwater and nasty sewage from backing up into your drains. [These are available in Pakistan]
  • Invest in a backup generator to keep your appliances working when the power is out.
  • Secure furniture, geezers, and other items that aren’t anchored to anything.

Make a grab bag (one for each member of your family)

Why is this important you say?

A theoretical study in the UK 'Life without lorries‘ study (McKinnon, 2006), considered the effects of a complete shut-down of road haulage in the UK for 1 week, In the study, there was insufficient time for retailers to switch from centralised systems to local sources , so rationing of some foods was necessary after three days. It also found that supplies to many hospitals would break down within 1 day.

In the event of a major incident, whether it is a result of a natural or man-made disaster, the authorities may become overwhelmed with the scale of the response. During these times, the emergency services will not be able to respond to the immediate needs of everyone. Response times could stretch from minutes to hours or it may be days before help arrives.

It is, therefore, vital that you can support yourself and your family for at least three days in the event of a major incident. In 2010/2011, severe flooding in Pakistan left thousands of people without power and clean water supplies for many weeks.

Employers and Businesses alike should plan to support their guests and staff in these situations. In short, plan to be self-sufficient for at least three days in the aftermath of a disaster. You may need to survive, in adverse weather, without electric power, heat, gas or communication for 72 hours or longer.

Contents of a Emergency Grab Bag:

First thing’s first, no amount of fancy equipment will aid you unless you have a clearly laid out plan – Make a plan – Laminate it and keep a copy of the plan in your grab bag. (Be sure to test your plan, regularly, get everyone involved and turn it into a family game).

When considering preparing an emergency kit, you need to break down the items you will need into specific categories, these are:
  • Communication
  • Food & Water
  • Medical & Hygiene
  • Tools
  • Shelter & Good to have.
  • Plan: Keep a copy of your plan in your grab bag and make sure that if you are making mini grab bags for your family members, these bags have a copy of the plan. Make sure everyone in your family know the plan.
  • Map: Keep a map of your local area, nowadays google maps can print highly detailed street maps of Pakistani cities which can be laminated and placed in your bag.
  • Photographs: Keep photographs of yourself and your family members and place their names on the back of the photographs. (You can show these to emergency workers and others in the area if you get separated).
  • Insulation tape: This is a cheap bit of kit that comes in many colours and can be used to mark rendezvous points. Assign a colour to each family member for example blue for yourself and red for your wife, and green for your child. Always plan to have 3 or more rendezvous points if you become separated, if one of you arrive at that location first and have to move on due to an emergency or other untoward situation stick a strip of your colour coded insulation tape on the door/wall/ tree/ prominent place to say you were here and have moved on to location 2.
Spare phone: It is always a good idea to keep a cheap dependable phone in your grab bag, in case your primary phone becomes lost or damaged. Always write the phone number on the back of the phone cover and make sure all primary and secondary phone numbers are placed on your family plan.

A good dependable option is the Nokia 1100 true to its name retails for about 1000/1100 rupees and is rugged and will easily provide you with 72 hours battery time or standby. Always keep a spare battery and make sure that this is charged (wrap in plastic to avoid discharge).

Out of city contact: In the event of a major disaster or emergency, the local cellular or fixed line networks may become congested due to traffic volume, however it would still be possible to contact people in other parts of the country who may be unaffected by network congestion. In this case it is a good idea to keep an out of city contact (or 2) on your plan. You can contact them and let them know of your condition, location and current situation.

Pens, Markers, Chalk, notepads and a (can of spray paint in orange or red) : The need for pens and notepads should be self-explanatory should you need to note down important information or pass information to someone, the SPRAY PAINT CAN may be used to spray HELP, SOS or WARN others. Orange is a high visibility colour is better than darker colours.

Whistle: The saying “Old is gold” applies here, one of the oldest methods of alerts or signalling others, and still the most effective. A very good tool if you need to signal someone or get their attention (like a passer-by, rescue boat, ambulance or police officer).

Radio: Most phones now have built in radios – radios are good to keep up to date with news, alerts and weather updates.

A plastic mirror or highly polished reflective metal sheet: This can be used to reflect the light from the sun to get the attention of helicopters or aircraft flying overhead.

Food, Water & Welfare:

When planning your emergency rations make sure you choose food you will actually eat, but don’t go overboard. The daily calorie intake for men is 2500, 2000 for women and 1400 for children.

Choose non-perishable ready to eat food that is low in salt (avoid dehydration) and high in energy, there are several options available to suit all budgets, for example; you can buy ready made Daal-makhni that you can eat out of the packet for 180 rupees. If you are thrifty, you can make your own ready meal by emptying the contents of an instant noodle packet in a zip lock bag and all you will need to add to have a warm meal is hot water….

Pack some comfort foods like tang or similar cordial powder, instant coffee, tea bags and milk powder, chocolate and trail mix.

An example of Pakistani made MRE: Meal ready to eat:


Other items you can consider are snacks that are high in carbohydrates and sugar such as dates, resins, chocolates and high-energy glucose biscuits:

Water: The average person requires 3 litres of water a day to keep well hydrated, storing this much water in a grab bag may become a problem….. So the easier option is to keep a small supply of potable water (1 litre) and have a water purification kit to purify available water in the event of an emergency…

How to source water in an emergency? Water can be sources from many places in the event of sudden emergency, such as roof top and underground water tanks, the boiler of a gas geezer and even the “top tank” of a toilet flush (just remember to bleach it first) :enjoy:

How to purify water? You can purify water by boiling the water, by using available commercial purification products or if you are really desperate you can use household bleach, 3 drops of bleach will purify 1 litre of water.

Medical & Hygiene

First Aid Kit:
There are many commercially available first aid kits in Pakistan, with most starting at 800 rupees and rising, it is always a better idea to build your own kit rather than buy a ready made product.

Image: Different First Aid Kits available in Pakistan

A simple first aid kit should have the following items:
  • 1x Tweezers
  • 1x Scissors (preferably blunt tip)
  • 6x safety pins
  • 2x sterile eye pads
  • 1x Crepe Bandage 5cm x 4.5cm
  • 2x packets of sterile gauze swabs 5 x 5cm
  • 1x Fabric tape or Micropore tape 1.25cm x 5m
  • 10x Alcohol prep swabs
  • 2x Disposable latex gloves
  • 1x Pack of assorted plasters
  • 1x Pack of analgesic plasters
  • 1x Forehead thermometer / digital thermometer
(Once you have these items you can pack them in a small container like an old purse or even a lunch box).

Personal Medical Needs: Everyone has some form of personal medical need such as prescription glasses, prescription medication etc. If anyone wears glasses in your family, keep a spare set in a protective case in your kit.

Hygiene supplies:
  • toothbrush
  • toothpaste
  • anti bacterial soap (Dettol/Safeguard)
  • insect repellent
  • hand sanitizer
  • paper towels
  • tissue paper
  • wash cloth
  • antiseptic liquid = Dettol
  • some Vaseline
  • a small amount of bleach in a secure container
  • disposable gloves
  • surgical masks (10 minimum per person)
  • safety goggles (personal needs may vary from person to person and from gender to gender)


2x flashlights (with extra batteries), candles, and matches (keep them waterproof by placing them in a container such as a 35mm film canister), lighters.

Dust Masks: Different from your surgical face mask, these are made of paper and are very good to protect from dust, sediment and other particulates that may cause breathing difficulties.

Duct Tape: Also known as elephant tape, this is very strong adhesive tape and will secure anything to anything, in fact it is so good it was used fix the broken water tanks at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Excellent you need to make an emergency shelter and also can be used to sure bandages. Squash the roll by stomping on it to make it easier to pack in your bag.

Multi Tool / Pocket Knife: A knife has many uses and there are many times of knives available, choose a reliable and good blade, a sensible option is a multi-tool which contains a plier, saw, knife and other useful tools and can be picked up for around 500/1500 rupees.

Nylon rope – Good quality rope can be used for a number of emergency situations such as securing objects, making your shelter, making a stretcher or for access. Minimum of 5 meters.

Aluminium foil: This is a very versatile bit of kit and can be used to create a solar oven, an electricity free refrigerator or even used as a signal mirror to signal rescue boats/ helicopters.

Zip Lock Bag: These are cheap resalable bags good for storing almost everything and can also be used as a porta-potty in extreme circumstances.


Plastic Sheet:
12 feet by 12 feet plastic sheet (2 millimetres in thickness) – This is very easy to acquire in Pakistan and can be picked up for no more than a couple of hundred rupees, it’s primary use is to help you create a temporary shelter and even help in collecting water or acting as an emergency stretcher.

Good to have (optional goodies)

Sewing Kit:
A good sewing kit is very useful to mend clothes and with some ingenuity, you can also use the needle make a makeshift compass.

A book: Once the chaos passes, this is one bit of your kit that will comfort you and take your mind of things, it can be any kind of book such as a religious or spiritual book or something that gives you comfort.

Your child’s favourite toy or a Board game/Colouring in book: You may wonder, why on earth you would put this in an emergency kit, but you must understand that children cope differently to adults in an emergency and it is vital that they see that parents are in control and things are normal, such little things will keep their mind of matters around them and allow you to engage with them and reassure them.

Once you're done with your kit, pack it in an easy to carry back pack. You can use a large school bag, however a decent quality rucksack can be purchased for about 1500 rupees.


IMPORTANT: When it comes to batteries, food and medications, look at their expiry dates and toss out any old ones.

Know What to Do if Evacuation Is Necessary

With backup generators, a three-level house, and loads of food in your pantry, you might feel confident that you can bug in comfortably. But don’t be too assured. You always need to be ready for the possibility of evacuating.

For instance, if a flash flood made its way to your neighbourhood, then you might be more vulnerable at home. Also, you can’t defy your local government’s orders. They probably have more details about the threat than you do. Another thing you need to think of is where you’ll go if you have to evacuate.

While your local provincial disaster management authority may have an evacuation plan ready, it doesn’t hurt to have a plan B, C, or D of your own. A few fallen trees can block your path to safety, so having several backup routes and bug out options will come in handy.

Here’s what you need to do if you have to bug out:

  • Turn off your water, gas, and electricity.
  • Unplug all your appliances.
  • Lock your doors and close your windows.
  • Fill your bug out vehicle’s gas tank and stash extra fuel.
  • Grab your bug out bag (stash it near the front door so you won’t upend your home looking for it).
Sample evacuation plan:

Home – Mark the location of your home and the home of your friend on your map. The home of your friend can be a safe heaven if you cannot reach your home.
Prepare a flood evacuation plan, and practice the route.
Beware of bottlenecks where you may get stuck in traffic
Be aware of which roads become flooded

Establish a Family Communication Plan

What if your household gets separated during the flood? It’s far from ideal, but you need to think about it because it CAN happen.

So, gather your family together and discuss a game plan everyone can follow. It should include:
  • An out-of-area [city] contact who will serve as your family’s point person
  • A list of important contact information (ex. friends, relatives, emergency services) that each family member should have
  • Recent pictures of your household to use as references when asking other people if they’ve seen them
Got everything? Nice! Next up, we talk about what to do in the middle of a flood. Let’s get right to it:

What to Do During a Flood

The flood is here. What should you do now?

The first step is to check the news. What are the weather updates? Did you get evacuation orders? Other instructions?

Then, remember these:

If You’re Staying at Home

  • Your furniture and other belongings should be at the higher levels of your home by now. If you haven’t, then move them BUT make your safety the priority.
  • Shut off your utilities if you’re told to do so.
  • If water breaks in, don’t swim through it. Make a beeline for your home’s highest floor. In a worst-case scenario, you might have to clamber up to your roof.

If You’re in Your Car

  • Don’t drive through floodwater. A tiny car can be swept by 12 inches of water, while two feet of water is enough to propel a larger car away.
  • Run to higher ground if the water level rises and you can’t move or restart your car.
  • But if the water is moving fast, don’t get out unless water enters and rises in the vehicle. Climb and stay on the roof.
  • Avoid bridges if they’re over quick-moving water. Rapidly rising water can make a bridge collapse.
The biggest takeaway of all of this? NEVER swim, drive, or even walk through floodwater. If it doesn’t drown you, it might either poison or electrocute you.

Self rescue in flat or moving water if needed
  • If you are wading or walking in water – you should use a stick or something similar to check the road ahead of you.
    If a manhole cover from a road or a ditch is in front of you, underwater, you could fall and get caught underwater or whisked away.
  • Cover your mouth and nose during entry
  • Protect your head and keep face out of the water
  • If slow moving water, assume the HELP position “heat escaping lessening position” position)

If you are swept away in swift moving water do not attempt to stand up, steer with your feet as you float on your back Float on back with feet pointed downstream and head pointed towards the nearest shore at 45-degree angle.

When floating in cold water alone, conserve body heat by using the HELP: Heat Escape Loss Prevention Position, as shown above


When floating in cold water with other people, HUDDLE together

Helping others during a flood
A person should never actually go in the water to rescue a person in trouble. Several double and triple drowning have occurred because someone entered the water to try and rescue a person. The best thing a person can do if he or she cannot reach or throw something to the person that is in trouble is get help. Only trained rescuers should enter the water to try and save someone in trouble. Swift water and flood rescue is a very technical rescue discipline and even trained rescue professionals have often been injured or worse during helping people:

If the water is still and not fast moving, remember the "REACH, THROW, ROW, BUT DON'T GO RULE".

Basic Sandbagging Operations
  • A properly built sandbag dike can prevent or reduce flood damage.
  • Bags must be filled and placed properly to give the best protection.
  • Any available material can be used to fill sandbags, but sand is easiest to handle.
  • Silt and clay will form a good dike but are more difficult to work with.
  • Different size bags are available, but bags are easier to handle if weight is limited to less than 35 pounds.
  • This is particularly important when teenagers or older persons will be handling the bags.
Site Selection to make a sandbag wall

  • Select the location for the dike taking advantage of natural land features that keep the dike as short and low as possible. Avoid any obstructions which would weaken the dike.
  • Do not build the dike against a building wall. Leave about 8 feet to manoeuvre between the dike and buildings.
  • If the dike is to be more than about 3 feet high, remove a strip of turf “surface with grass growing on it” to provide better anchorage for the dike.
  • Overlap the sandbags as shown in this image, placing the first layer of bags lengthwise of the dike and lapping the bags so the filled portion of one bag lies on the unfilled portion of the next.
  • The base of the dike should be three times as wide as the dike is high, as shown in this image.
  • The second layer of bags should be perpendicular to the first layer, then alternate direction of the bags to the top of the dike.
  • The finished dike can be sealed with a sheet of plastic to improve water tightness. Spread a layer of dirt or sand 1 inch deep and about 1 foot wide along the bottom of the dike on the waterside.
  • Lay polyethylene plastic sheeting so the bottom extends 1 foot beyond the bottom edge of the dike over the loose dirt. The upper edge should extend over the top of the dike.
  • The sheeting should be about 6 mils thick.

What to Do After a Flood

While the flood is gone, that doesn’t mean you can throw a party just yet.

Remember the following steps to keep your family safe in the aftermath:
  • Don’t go back home till the authorities say it’s alright (if you evacuated).
  • When you’re home, check for issues like mould, gas leaks, and loose fixtures.
  • Inspect sewer systems and septic tanks for leaks.
  • Take out carpets that got soaked during the flood.
  • Wear protective gear when you’re cleaning up the debris. This includes gloves, boots, and a face mask.
  • Get rid of food that came into contact with floodwater, even canned goods.
  • Let your kids, pregnant family members, and anyone with bad immune systems step inside the house only AFTER the cleaning is done.
  • Continue to avoid driving in flooded areas. Stay far away from standing water.


  • Family Plan Template DPART v.1.pdf
    399.7 KB · Views: 15


Sep 20, 2008
itna lanba pardhny se easy hoga log flood main mar jaay . kon itna pardhy ga pakistan main bhai jan ?
Puri kitab PDF pe rape or Nani Sharif per ap sab likh saktey hoo, 180 page Ka forum thread nawaz shrif ke tind aur khaney per likh saktey or par saktey hain.

Magar 2000 words Ka article parney sey agar maut ati hai to phir betair hai kay Banda mar he Jaye.


Imran Khan

Oct 18, 2007
Puri kitab PDF pe rape or Nani Sharif per ap sab likh saktey hoo, 180 page Ka forum thread nawaz shrif ke tind aur khaney per likh saktey or par saktey hain.

Magar 2000 words Ka article parney sey agar maut ati hai to phir betair hai kay Banda mar he Jaye.

سر ہمیں سیلاب منظور ہے 1122 پر کال کریں گے اگر پانی آیا

Enigma SIG

Feb 20, 2009
Let me say it for Pakistanis who can't read that while we appreciate that looooong thread you just wrote and honest to God have bookmarked it for future reference, it'd be pertinent to note that Pakistanis would like to be "rescued" from Pakistan itself by putting up a thread which serves as a ticket out of Hades' bottomless pit full of minions and ghouls and all sorts of horrifying creatures that prey on the flesh of the living.

Love Hades (on Steam) for the gamers out there.


Dec 7, 2007
سر ہمیں سیلاب منظور ہے 1122 پر کال کریں گے اگر پانی آیا
It is a very good document. A while back I prepared a list of survival items, I had to go through a lot of resources so I know how much details he has gone.
It is always good to be ready for the unexpected. Catastrophe does not happens everyday but when it occurs it resets everything.

Users Who Are Viewing This Thread (Total: 1, Members: 0, Guests: 1)

Top Bottom