BEFORE THE STORM
1. Monitor the news or your local weather station for updates on the storm situation, when it will hit and how strong it will be.
2. Move to higher ground. Move away from creeks, streams, rivers, and storm drains. Flash floods can sweep over an area without warning, and you may only have minutes to get to safety. Note that flash floods can occur up to 12 hours after heavy rains.
Move animals and livestock to higher ground, bring pets inside. Move your valuable and furniture to higher floors of your home, if possible. Check your gutters to make sure they are clear of leaves and debris. You may also opt to park your cars on higher ground. You can opt to leave some possessions with someone who is not at a flood-prone area.
3. Stock up on supplies. Fill up clean plastic bottles with clean water and store as much water as you can, especially if you live in a flood-prone area. Immediately charge all essential electronics like cellular phones, which you will have to use in case of emergencies.
You should have a family emergency kit stocked with essential supplies that can last you a minimum of 3 days. Items include: flashlights, battery-operated radio, weather radio, water, canned food, can opener, first aid supplies, medicines. Prepare and emergency kit for your pets as well. If applicable, keep copies of your home or insurance papers inside sealed plastic bags.
4. Prepare your escape routes. Practice what you will do in case of flood. Map out safe routes where you can get from your office to your work. Coordinate with your neighbors, in case of extreme floods. Figure out how you can get from your location to safer ground.
Decide on a meeting place away from your home where you and your family will gather if you need to leave your home and family members become separated. Prepare escape gear like floating devices, snorkels, swimming gear or inflatable rafts for worst-case scenarios.
5. Keep note of emergency hotlines in your area. Philippine hotlines are: 734-2118, 734-2120; 911-5061, 912-5668 (National Disaster Coordinating Council), 527-6136 (Coast Guard); Meralco (16210).
DURING THE STORM
1. Keep your radios tuned to a local radio station and follow all instructions. If you are told to evacuate, move out of the house or building to safe, high ground.
2. Turn off all electricity using your breaker box (main power switch) and turn off the main gas valve. Disconnect any equipment that uses water (like washing machines and dishwashers). Avoid burning candles for light, and never leave fires unattended.
3. Never walk or swim through swiftly moving water. Avoid flooded areas. Floodwaters that are above your knees are dangerous. Turn around and go back to higher ground.
Never try to cross floodwaters standing or in a vehicle. Water that is 2 feet deep can carry away most cars, including Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs). If you find floodwaters on the road, turn around and find an alternate route. Abandon your vehicle immediately if it becomes surrounded with water or the engine stalls. Seek higher ground immediately.
4. Try to stop water from entering your home by putting plugs in sinks and baths and weigh them down with a sandbag, pillowcase or a plastic bag filled with garden soil or a heavy object. Plug water inlet pipes with towels or cloths.
5. Attempt to keep contact with your neighbors to make sure everyone is safe and so that you can pool (and later ration) supplies when the situation calls for it.
6. If your car is swept into the water and submerged, do not panic. Stay calm, hold your breath, force your wait outside, and swim to the surface.
If you are swept into fast-moving floodwater outside of your car, point your feet downstream. Always go over obstacles, never try to go under. Do not enter floodwater.
7. If you are stranded on something above floodwater, such as a tree or building, stay put and wait for rescue. Call for help if you are in danger.
AFTER THE STORM
1. Even if the storm is clear, keep listening to weather reports and only return to evacuated buildings if you are told it is safe to do so. Beware of sharp objects and pollution in flood water.
Watch out for live electrical wires. Be sure the electrical current is turned off. Watch out for animals, especially poisonous snakes that may have entered your home during the storm. Keep safe from loose plaster or ceilings that may have come loose.
2. Assess the damage. If you have evacuated from your home and wish to turn back, be sure the structure is not visibly damaged and in danger of collapsing before entering. Do not use electrical appliances that have been wet, because there are hazards of electric shock and fire.
3. Avoid water-borne diseases. Assume that any water in flooded or surrounding areas is not safe unless local authorities expressly declared it to be so. If there is no safe water supply for washing, use bottled water or disinfected water (by adding 5 drops of liquid household bleach and let sit for 30 minutes).
Before entering an area that has been flooded, try to don protective clothing to avoid contact with floodwater. Decrease the risk of mosquito or other insect bites by using insect repellants. Throw away all food (even canned ones) that have come in contact with flood water.
SOURCES: Fairfax County Office for Public Affairs, Direct.gov.uk, firstaid.about.com, Federal Emergency Management Agency.