After the insufferable haze, Malaysians should be prepping for the monsoon season which is happening from October to March.
We have had our fair share of flood-related news, yet each time there’s a flood, it still takes people by storm.
One time, I was in a car during a flash flood – when it went under the water.
My car was caught in a flood!
It was dark at night, and there were no street lights on that particular road, so we couldn’t see that it was flooded in front of us.
I guess everyone got news to steer clear of that place except us.
Before we could react, the car plunged into high floodwater and the whole car just shut down once it came in contact with the water.
I guess we were lucky the water didn’t get into the car. If the flood water was just a few centimeters higher, I think it would have.
It was still raining cats and dogs outside, and we were stranded. The water was seeping into the car, the wind and rain were blowing fiercely outside.
The situation was so scary and stressful that I started crying.
So, my bf (now ex) got out of the car and decided to push the vehicle out of the water to a less flooded place – with me inside manning the steering wheel.
I was freaking out and did not know what to do, he was shouting instructions and hitting the back of the car to tell me which way to turn the wheel, and I just did what he told me to.
He was drenched in both rain water and flood water, and at the time I thought he was the most responsible and handsome man I’ve ever met.
After quite a bit of pushing, we finally got out of the water. However, try as we might, the car still wasn’t starting.
To our huge relief, three people arrived on the scene and volunteered to tow our car to a safe place.
An Indian driver risked getting wet to help my ex-bf push the car, a Malay lorry driver helped us tow the car to a nearby workshop, and a Chinese man tried to help us jump start the car.
It was truly a night of harmony with three strangers of different races coming to help us in our time of need.
Needless to say, it was a night worth remembering.
What if you were in a situation like this? Here are a few tips and tricks to help you to get through the dreaded flood season.
1. When you’re stuck in your car in a flood
If you’re stuck in your car during a flood, do not panic. Stay calm, or your judgement will be clouded.
First, turn the engine off as water can easily seep into your car and damage your engine.
Do not attempt to drive through flood waters because this will risk damage to your ventilation system.
Then, turn on your headlights or emergency light so that the authorities will see you.
Do not break the windows to get out as well in this situation because the flood water will come inside the car and make things worse.
If the water level is low enough, wind down the windows and escape through them. If your windows will not go down, you’ll have to escape your car by opening the door.
But if the water level outside is very high compared to inside your car, don’t attempt this! The water pressure will keep the door from budging.
At this point, you’ll have no choice – you’ll have to allow your car to fill with water.
Once the water level is the same as outside, the pressure has equalised, and you can open the doors and swim to safety.
Don’t try to force open the door before that, because you’ll waste precious energy.
Once you’re in the floodwaters, swim to a higher ground. Don’t stay with your car – you may get swept away, or the car may be submerged completely.
For more tips, you can read this article.
2. Flood-proof your home
But floods don’t just affect your roads and cars. It destroys homes and livelihoods too.
If you anticipate some local flooding in your neighborhood, always move valuable items to the top floor of your house.
Back in my hometown, homeowners sometimes build a partition in front of their door.
They would shore up their front door with sandbags to prevent the floodwater from coming into the house.
Although it’s a hassle to enter the house (and aesthetically it may look awful), it’s practically a must-have when it comes to flood protection.
3. Keep emergency numbers in your phone
999 – that’s the number for Malaysian Emergency Response Service, and it hasn’t changed, despite what some Malaysians think.
In fact, the government has combined all emergency numbers in Malaysia into a single number for public convenience.
999 covers all types of emergencies, ranging from the Royal Malaysian Police, Fire and Rescue, Health Ministry, Civil Defence Department, and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency.
I hail from a fishing town called Tawau, Sabah. In the past few months, there have been heavy floods in that area, caused by our town’s poor drainage system.
Luckily, we’ve got several fishing families who use the boats to help the other townsfolk to safety.
Aside from 999, I’ve got a few boat-owning friends on speed dial.
Not everyone knows a guy with a boat, but the principle is the same – have emergency numbers ready in your phone.
4. Check the electrical supply
When the floodwater inevitably starts to rise, make sure all electricity supplies have been switched off.
This is to prevent yourself from being electrocuted like a mosquito net.
If you get too close to a socket that’s underwater, it’s strong enough to stun you, or worse – even kill you.
To find out which places are off-limits and which places are safe, I’d tap in to the radio or television for information.
When I go out, I wear protective clothing like a waterproof jacket and boots to prevent getting sick.
If you have any open wounds and cuts, make sure to cover them with waterproof plasters to prevent yourself from getting infected.
5. Stay away from the floodwaters
You never know what’s in the floodwaters because it’s so hard to see anything under all that filthy water.
So don’t walk through the moving water! Sometimes children see this as a chance to have some fun, but it’s a very dangerous idea.
During the flood in my hometown in May this year, the villagers caught sight of a leathery reptile just lepak-ing on someone’s front porch.
At first sight, it was thought to be a lizard, but upon closer inspection, they found that it’s actually a real-life crocodile!
On hindsight that’s understandable, as there had been crocodile sightings in the river nearby.
Other than crocodiles, a python also made its appearance among the floodwaters and was caught by the villagers.
Just goes to show that when you’re in those muddy waters, something might be there alongside with you.
6. After the flood
Now that the flood water has receded, it’s time to clean and disinfect everything that has been in contact with the floodwater.
There are thousands, even millions of unseen bacteria and viruses lurking in the floodwater.
So it’s best to wipe down everything that has been submerged to prevent getting sick.
If there are any downed power lines that was caused by the flood, stay as far away from it as possible to avoid electrocution.
Only turn on any electricity supply after you’re absolutely sure it’s safe to do so.
Furthermore, you should only return home when the authorities indicate that it is safe.
Lastly, contact your insurance agency to see if your insurance covers any flood damage to lessen the cost of damage.
Floods sure are a hassle and can cause a lot of financial damage.
But with the right amount of preparation and foresight, any natural disaster can become a manageable daily safety hazard.
For more articles about what it’s like living in Malaysia, read 6 Things You Need To Know Before Buying Property in Malaysia and 5 Lessons From a Sarawakian Village.
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