How to be safe in the persistent rain and flooded roads
Johannesburg - As rainfall continues in some parts of South Africa, emergency services are warning motorists to be extra careful in the slippery and flooded roads.
According to Ekurhuleni's Disaster and Emergency Management Services (DEMS) as well as ER24, deep and large potholes filled with water and which motorists may not be aware of, smooth tyres that may not stop the car immediately on the wet road surface as well as not adhering to a safe following distance are some of the issues that could lead to fatal crashes.
Willie Ntladi of DEMS said they were on high alert as it has been raining for the past week persistently and roads across the Ekurhuleni were slippery and flooding was therefore eminent.
"Motorists are advised to be on high alert while driving. Some roads have potholes that are filled with rain water and very difficult to identify. Deep and large potholes may and can lead to fatal crashes.
"Keeping following distance and adhering to speed limits, can save lives. Drivers should check their vehicles' tyres, wipers and lights before travelling to prevent accidents from happening.
Ntladi also said communities in the low laying areas should also be high alert as the ground is saturated and any drizzles experienced, may result in flooding.
He also warned people against crossing water streams using an inappropriate route such as water pipes erected across them.
"This is a dangerous practice which could lead to drowning," he said, adding that all their 29 stations, firefighters and specialised rescue team around the City were ready to respond to any eventualities related to flooding.
On the other hand, ER24's Russell Meiring said numerous people have been left stranded in buildings while others were searching for higher ground after being caught in the floods.
Meiring said heavy rainfall contributes to smaller rivers and low-lying areas filling up quickly which in turn leave dangerous conditions across large parts of an affected area.
"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.
"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.
Another important thing, Meiring said, was to keep an eye out for weather warnings, radio announcements and news articles ut oml from reliable srounces.
"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.
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.
"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.
Tips that ER24 urges all the members of the public to take note of:
- 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 and 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 traveling.