This Article was first published in Dawn Magazine on 13 July 2015
The monsoon season is here and depending where you reside you may experience varying degrees of discomfort and inconvenience. How well-prepared you are and how you react during the monsoon season will ultimately make all the difference. Here are some essential things to keep in mind to cope with the rainy season:
When outdoors during or immediately after the rain:
— Be wary of fallen power lines.
— Lightning strikes could prove fatal therefore avoid using electronic and electrical devices and don’t touch metal without protective rubber gloves.
— Billboards are known to come loose during rains with strong winds; avoid standing under them.
— When taking shelter under a tree, be mindful that it may uproot or have branches that break off and fall.
— Always, when working with electrical equipment, wear insulated rubber shoes and gloves.
— Don’t walk near open drains or near rivers and streams.
— Low-lying streets and underpasses are prone to flooding in heavy rains; avoid walking through them.
— Mind your step; rain water brings with it a deposit of sand, silt or other materials that make the surfaces slippery.
Using your vehicle in the rain:
— Prepare for possible use of the vehicle during the rain:
- Check the battery charge and grease the terminals.
- Maintain proper tyre pressure and replace balding tyres at the earliest.
- Check the wipers and replace blades that may be damaged.
- Ensure that the brakes are functioning properly.
- Check to ensure the hazard lights, indicators and headlights are all functional.
- Ensure that the engine is in optimal condition.
- Wiring should be secure, if somework was carried out recently be sure that all joints are properly sealed.
- Store an umbrella, torch, plastic sheets, a whistle inside the car and not in the boot.
- Keep a hammer in the dashboard which can be used to break a car screen if autolocks fail and you are trapped inside.
- Have a tow chain / rope readily available.
Rains are good but you have to be prepared so as not to face any problems
— Ensure no less than half a tank of fuel is maintained at all times.
— Keep the AC on fresh air / ventilation mode at a comfortable temperature, as either too cold or too warm temperatures will fog up the screen. In case the screen fogs up from inside, either turn on the AC if it is off or lower the temperature and, if available, use the defog mode of the system.
— If roads are flooded and traffic is chaotic aim to reach the nearest place of a friend, relative or even a major hospital, hotel, etc. Avoid getting stranded on the road.
— If you are on regular medication keep some in your vehicle especially in cases of illnesses such as blood pressure, diabetes, asthma. Keep a spare set of eye glasses too.
— Lower your speed — it takes longer to stop due to reduced tyre grip.
— Drive in the tracks of the vehicle ahead of you but be mindful if the vehicle is much larger than yours.
— Switch on the headlights even in light rain.
— Do not drive through moving water when the ground is not visible as your car could be swept away.
— If a power line falls on your vehicle while you’re inside, stay inside. Honk to attract attention of others who may safely dislodge the wire. If you must leave the car don’t hold the car and stand on the ground at the same time. Jumping out landing on both feet clear from the vehicle is important.
Flash flood safety for homes:
— If you live in a low-lying area or an area that is prone to flooding due to overflowing drains or along a canal or river then have a proper evacuation plan. Make sure every member of the household knows the plan.
— Keep an inventory of sandbags, plastic sheets, plywood that can be used to protect from rising water or to make temporary repairs (close broken windows or seal leaks from under the doors).
— Ensure that these items are stored above any potential flood level and secure them from floating away.
— Know where the nearest high ground is, which is not impacted by the rising water or least impacted, and head there quickly in the event of flash flood.
— Switch off the main power supply before leaving the home if it’s safe to do so. In the event of restoration of power to the area a surge could result in an electrical short-circuit.
— If leaving the home unattended is not an option, move the majority of the family to a safer location and ensure that you stay on the upper level or even the roof of the house.
General home safety:
— Ensure safe access to the main power supply to the house by keeping it clear of obstructions.
— Rain protection supplies such as umbrellas, raincoats, rubber gloves and rubber boots should be easily accessible.
— Ahead of the rains clear all overflowing drains and have sewerage lines cleaned.
— If you reside in a house then survey the roof and ensure any cracks are sealed or then covered appropriately to prevent seepage.
— Children and elderly are most vulnerable to falls due to slippery surfaces; place proper mats to dry footwear and quickly mop up puddles.
— Drinking water should be stored in clean containers that are properly sealed.
— First aid kit with sufficient supply of prescription medication, if regularly required.
— Food items that can be consumed without cooking or do not need to be kept cool in a fridge.
— Radio, power-banks (chargers), torches with extra batteries.
— Fuel for backup generator.