Heavy rain and flooding – what you need to know
The South African Weather Service issued severe weather alerts for the Western Cape this weekend. Cold, snow, strong winds and heavy rain has been forecast. For up to date warnings, please visit the Weather SA website.
Heavy rainfall contributes to smaller rivers and low-lying areas filling up quickly, leaving dangerous conditions across large parts of an affected area.
Below are some tips that we at ER24 urge all the members of the public to take note of.
A flash flood is a rapid flooding of a low-lying area. It may be caused by heavy rain associated with a severe thunderstorm, hurricane or even a tropical storm. Flash floods are distinguished from regular floods by a timescale of less than six hours. You will not always have a warning that these deadly, sudden floods are coming. So, if you live in areas prone to flash floods, plan accordingly to protect your family and property.
Keep an eye out for weather warnings, radio announcements and news articles. Only trust warnings from verified sources and do not distribute warnings circulating on WhatsApp and other social media channels that cannot be verified. These warnings cause unnecessary panic and may cause further harm.
If you are caught in a heavy storm, try and find cover. Ensure that you are not in the open or near any large trees or high rising objects that might be struck by lightning. In large open spaces, you may also be at risk to be struck by lightning. Be sensible and seek cover.
Remember that visibility will be decreased during heavy downpours and this will affect your ability to see other vehicles on the road as well as pedestrians. Keep a longer than normal following distance and ensure that you decrease your speed. Your vehicle must be roadworthy and your windscreen wipers must be in perfect condition. Should you feel that you cannot continue your journey, rather stop at your closest filling station or covered area. Avoid stopping on the side of highways or under bridges.
Where an area is flooded, it is advisable to seek an alternative route and not to attempt to cross the road or surface. More than often there is debris that is not visible and the current may be stronger than what is perceived.
If you are trapped in your vehicle during a flash flood, rather attempt to abandon your vehicle to try and get to higher ground. If you get swept away while in the flood waters, try to grab onto anything you can to pull yourself to safety.
If flooding occurs at your home, ensure that all your electrical devices are switched off at the main distribution board. Do not attempt to unplug or switch off electrical devices near water. Rather disconnect all main power from your main distribution board in your house. It is advisable that you know where this distribution board is situated and where the main switch is located.
Move to higher ground and inform emergency services of the situation.
Remember to keep a first aid kit and always ensure you have the necessary emergency numbers at hand and someone knows the route you are travelling.
Please note that the above statement is by no means a warning of imminent flooding. The contents herein are provided as awareness and as a precautionary measure.