It is said that “to be forewarned is to be forearmed”. Emergencies are unexpected incidents that do not make prior announcements before they occur. However, for some mishaps, there are usually conditions that may give signs that disaster was imminent. For such foreseen disasters, it is vital to heed an ancient scriptural proverb which says; “The shrewd one sees the danger and conceals himself, but the inexperienced keep right on going and suffer the consequences.”
Recently the Minister of Water Resources presented the 2014 flood outlook for Nigeria at the Annual Flood Outlook organized by the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency Abuja. According to the presentation: “…Sokoto, Yobe, Benue and parts of the Niger Delta basin were high flood risk areas for 2014. … the Minister urged Nigerians to take the forecast seriously and also called for inter-agency collaboration in other to be effective in preventing, controlling, and responding to cases of flood across the country”. – Source: Channels TV Website. It was also reported over the weekend that due to a heavy down pour, over 10 persons died at Ibadan, Oyo State.
As the rains become heavier this year, it will also remind all of heavy floods in previous years. I remember particularly, the one that occurred on Sunday 10 July, 2011. It sent thousands of people away from their homes and also lead to loss of lives and property. One may now ask; how can I contribute to mitigating the negative effect of the heavy rains and their consequent flooding this year? To be safe, those who live in flood prone areas can follow these simple steps:
Be Alert: Not being ignorant of what the rains may cause, those who leave in flood prone areas must be alert especially on a rainy day and be ready to take necessary steps to ensure their safety.
This also involves surveillance of the locality where one lives. Do not just remain indoors on a rainy day if you live in an area prone to flooding. It is important to come out from time to time to check out the water levels if you had not evacuated. This will help to prevent you from being locked-in by the flood waters. Remember escape routes on your street may be flooded. So take quick action and get out of the area before it is too late. Call an emergency number (e.g. 767 – Lagos or 112) for assistance.
Heed Warning Messages and Signs: As can be seen from the presentation of the 2014 flood outlook above, relevant Government Agencies are expected to provide needed information and also orientate people including placing of some warning signs in flood prone areas. It is therefore beneficial for individuals to heed such messages and signs to avoid any mishap.
On the other hand, residents of a locality might have taken it upon themselves to put signs to warn people about the danger of flood waters and their locality. You must respect such signs. There was an experience at Ogba in Lagos on 10th July, 2011 when it rained heavily for hours and caused serious flooding. Residents of a street deemed it fit to cordon off part of the street because they saw that the flood waters were already too high. But due to what I may refer to as ignorance, a motorcyclist who was stopped from going into the waters picked up quarrel with the people. Please to save your life and that of others. Do not disobey warning signs, including that of local residents of an area. Remember, they understand the terrain more than you.
Safe use of Electricity: Wise use of electricity is very important during the heavy rains. This is because individuals who live in homes that are usually flooded are at risk of being electrocuted. My recommendation is that, if you know that your home usually gets flooded when it rains heavily, remove electrical connections from the floor. Better still ensure that your electricity source is disconnected immediately you suspect flooding. Remember water may be so much that it gets to the level of sockets. So do not forget and do not procrastinate. To prevent accidents, swift action is required.
Avoid Drowning: Another risk during the heavy rains is the risk of drowning. There have been reports of individuals, especially children who got drowned during a heavy downpour, which caused flooding. Such incidents may happen as a result of a child sleeping while the rain started and others who live in the home probably forgetting that a child was sleeping. This is why everyone in a home has to be aware of where the other person is and what he/she is doing. It is advisable that on a rainy day, children must remain at home with their parents or guardians. This is where being alert is also very crucial. Being alert will enable everyone in a home to know when to evacuate a flood prone area to safety