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How to secure your ark against flooding

If you’ve been hiding under a rock and somehow missed the viral video of the man canoeing along Ahmadu Bello street, VI yesterday, here it is:

 

Or if you didn’t see the photo of the crocodile someone caught in the middle of Lekki, here it is:

 

 

 


And if by any chance you missed the picture of the poor foreign bride who stood on while her groom had to be carried to the car, I’ve got you covered:

I’m sure you get the idea. Certain Lagos residents have found themselves in hot water since the recent flash flooding in parts of Lagos. Residents have had their homes and belongings submerged under water, with little or no option but to hope and pray for the rains to subside. This is especially as 2 days later, the government still has not put out any plans or public information or even alternative travel options.

As a result, we’ve decided to step in and carry out some research of our own. Through this, we really wanted to figure out how best a layperson could protect him/herself from floods – especially no without $8,400 to splurge on a dam like this guy.

Before the rains start

  1. Prepare. In the event of flash flooding, preparation is key. You need to understand the risk of flooding in your area, especially if you live on the island and put in place an action plan for you and your family. You need a plan for where you will go if your house becomes unlivable, sort out who you will stay with and how you will contact them.
  2. Keep your important documents such as your international passports, ID cards, vehicle documents etc in a secure, high location, prefarably on the first floor.
  3. You will also need to plan where you could move your cars to, if it comes to that. Roads may very quickly become cut off by water so only do this if it is safe.
  4. You also need to ensure that you have plenty of dried or tinned food and bottled drinks that will remain safe to consume having been stored at room temperature. Ensure that these items are kept at a high location. Make sure you have medication, waterproof clothing and torches and plenty of batteries to hand. It may be useful to have a radio, mobile phone and battery-powered phone chargers available too.

When you find yourself “flash-flooded”

  1. Turn off your electrical supply. Electricity and water are not a good mix, so you need to ensure that all power is switched off at the source, in the event that power is restored. Under no circumstances should you touch switches and plugs etc while you stand in flood water as this could result in electrocution. Flood water and the items within it can also cause damage to pipes and cabling, resulting in leaks or instabilities, so this is another reason why everything must be switched off. Rely on torches etc until things return to normal.
  2. When you notice the water rising, clear your gutters and drains.
  3. Move furniture, rugs, electronics and other belongings to upper floors, or at least raise them off a ground floor.
  4. Elevate major appliances onto concrete blocks if they’re potentially in harm’s way from flooding.
  5. Removing the flood water. You know it’s time to remove the flood water from the house when you notice that the water levels outside the house are below that of the water levels within the house. If you haven’t got a water pump, you can very easily remove the water the old-fashioned way by using buckets to scoop it out.
  6. Drying out our house. Once the water in your house has been removed, you can start to dry out your house and possessions. Anything that can be removed from the house to dry in the sun (as long as it is not raining, obviously) should be removed immediately and set outside. Open all of your home’s windows and doors to let the trapped moisture escape to reduce the chances of moulds forming within the house. It would also be wise to invest in an indoor dehumidifier to remove the evaporating moisture from your home.A dehumidifier is the best tool you can use for this, but you can also use some fans on, as the circulating air can help speed up the drying process.

7. Disinfect your home. After the house has been dried out, use a strong disinfectant to clean your home as bacteria might have come in through sewers, toilets, etc. Disinfect all the areas affected by the flood waters including walls, wood and furniture.

When building in a flood-prone area

If you have spent a hefty amount of money buying land in a flood-prone area, it makes sense to make modifications which could be the difference between having to lose all your prized furniture/possessions and surviving a flood. Here are some modifications you can make when building to flood-proof your home.

  1. Before you start digging your foundation, take into consideration the slopes and potential direction of water flow. Your aim is to situate the home in a pisition where water drains away from it. If possible, elevate the building above the surroundings
  2. Install foundation vents. Foundation vents allow water to flow through the building, instead of rising inside and causing more damage. You’d need at least 2 vents on different walls. A 1,000-square-foot house would require 7 square feet of flood vents. Here’s a video showing how to retrofit a foundation vent on a house that previously had none.
  3. Plant a garden. Concrete + Rain = Flash floods. Concrete + Rain + Poor government planning = Uncle Noah. The problem with concrete is that while it is low maintenance, and gives you a place to park your “whip”, it cannot soak up rain water, so when it rains there’s nowhere for the water to go except into the drains built by the government. Oh, wait….. Planting a garden with trees, grass, flowers and even bamboo could help soak rainwater like a sponge. The only cost is that you will need to tend to it once in a while and get your gardening gloves on. Another option if you  really want the best of both worlds (low maintenance and low flooding risk) is using gravel instead of concrete paving stones. Gravel is porous and allows water seep into the soil, especially if you have plants like bamboo around it.
  4. Within the house, install your sockets, circuit breakers and wiring a little higher than normal.
  5. Outside your house, anchor your externally fitted air-conditioning units, fuel tanks and generators. House them on raised platforms.

That’s all for now, and stay safe guys! Besides if you need a single-person canoe, I would highly recommend this beauty:

For Mr & Mrs, check this out:

About Zima Meli

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MyMetro is an ongoing editorial experiment aimed at discussing ideas and innovation for rising above unsavoury environments.

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