Floodwater poses serious dangers

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Children, and adults, should never enter floodwater.

The lure of “playing” in floodwaters can be a deadly attraction, particularly for children.

Once the rain has gone, neighbourhood roadways, drains and parks can turn into rivers and lakes filled with floodwater.

Children, and even adults, are often quick to explore the new waterways, either unaware or disregarding the potential dangers.

Floodwater can hide all sorts of dangers, including slippery surfaces, uneven ground, strong currents, fences, rocks, long grass and weeds, tree branches, vehicles, sharp objects, chemicals, sewage and electrical current.

In some situations, the force of fast-flowing water can be multiplied many times.

Things like metal drains and grilles beneath the water can generate very strong suction and swift currents, and can quickly trap a person.

Even near the water’s edge, the currents, slope of the ground, or a slippery surface, can cause a person to lose their footing. People should stay at least 3m back from the waterline.

In urban areas, very large volumes of fast-flowing water can rise and fall in minutes, rapidly trapping, or sucking under, anyone who gets too close to drains, pipes or grilles.

These are not a place to play, or even to stand and watch, as they are slippery, have very strong pulling power, and it can be very hard to get out of them.

Even walking in floodwater can be dangerous. Water at ankle height can cause you to lose your footing and, once you have slipped and fallen, it may be very hard or impossible to get out.

What to do

If you become trapped

  • Don’t enter the water if it can be avoided and stop others from entering it. Even fully equipped swift-water technicians will only enter the water as a last resort.
  • Stay calm. Phone Triple Zero (000) or ask, or signal to, others to call for your rescue.
  • Be patient – if you are in an isolated area, rescuers may take some time to reach you. If you are caught in a vehicle, try to stay there until help arrives, the water level goes down, or a safe escape is possible. • Listen to authorities who are trained professionals and follow their instructions.

If someone else is trapped

  • Don’t enter swiftwater or floodwaters yourself – the best way to help is to report to emergency services and continue to monitor the person.
  • Don’t tie a rope to yourself as you could be pulled in too; find a solid structure to use as an anchor.
  • Try to use a tree branch, rope or similar item to reach the person if possible, but use extreme caution as fast-flowing water can force the trapped person further under the surface.

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Things to note

The information in this article has been prepared for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal advice or specific advice to any particular person. Any advice contained in the document is general advice, not intended as legal advice or professional advice and does not take into account any person’s particular circumstances. Before acting on anything based on this advice you should consider its appropriateness to you, having regard to your objectives and needs.