If you are in a rural area that has just been through a significant flood event, you may find yourself in a spot where you need to walk to where you want to be rather than driving to get there. Here are five tips you can use to keep yourself as safe as possible in that scenario:
1. Wear Sensible Footwear
If you are at home and have the ability to choose what footwear you'll use for your journey, take advantage of that opportunity. Choose your shoes carefully. You want shoes that have really good traction and are easy to walk in. Thick soles are better than thin soles: sharp objects, broken glass, and other hazards are common in a post-flood environment even in the countryside. Rubber soles are good in the event that you encounter downed power lines. Pick shoes that protect your feet as much as possible. Boots are probably best, with sneakers a second-choice. If you can at all help it, don't try walking out in flip-flops or barefooted.
2. Bring Bottled Water With You
It may seem ridiculous to be carrying a bottle of water with you when the whole landscape is flooded, but you need to take steps to prevent dehydration while you're on your journey. Never, ever, ever drink flood water! It is not safe. If you don't have bottled water with you, bring what you do have- soda, juice, etc. This is especially important if you know you are going to be walking many miles.
3. Carry A Big Stick
It is a good idea to bring a long stick with you - think a broom handle or something similar. There are a few reasons for this. You can use the stick to help you balance, you can use the stick to test the landscape, you can use the stick to ward off unfriendly dogs. It is much better to have a stick and not need it than it is to need a stick and not have it.
4. Be Careful Around Any Dogs You See
Even dogs that are normally loving and friendly can be freaked out by a natural disaster. This could lead them to act in hostile and aggressive ways. Dogs that are injured may lash out at you: if you see a wounded dog and you're not someone who already has vet rescue skills and knows how to deal with hurt, scared animals, leave the dog alone. It will be hard, but the last thing you need to do right now is add being bitten by a dog to your list of problems. Be very careful around any dogs or other animals you see while you're on the road.
5. Test The Terrain and Choose Your Footing Carefully
As you go walking along, you're going to need to pay a lot of attention to the path you're choosing. Avoid, as much as possible, debris and rubble. Treat any downed power lines you may see as if they were totally lethal to the touch, because they very well may be. Stay out of the water as much as possible, especially moving water.
Use your stick to test the terrain - is the ground firm and secure, or does it seem likely to collapse under your feet at any second? Choose the firmest footing you can find. As much as possible, try to stay to the center of roadways, away from edges that may be crumbled or weakened. When you come to bridges, before you cross that bridge, take the time to look it over and ascertain to the best of your ability whether or not that bridge is secure before you trust it with your life.
Be aware of the landscape around you. Landslides can happen after a flood event. Make sure you're looking uphill and down as you walk along: be aware of your surroundings. If the road has been completely washed away, you have to be very strategic about how you're going to proceed. Bear in mind that if you need rescue, rescue units will be looking where houses and roadways were FIRST, if you're way off in the woods somewhere, it may make it harder for search and rescue units to find them. Trust and use your judgement!