Facts & Figures

Flooding

The seen and unseen dangers of flooding

FloodingFlooding is the most common natural disaster in Australia and causes great loss of life. Unfortunately, most fatalities occur because people underestimate the danger they are in or are entering into. But some simple understanding of the nature of floodwater could easily save a life.

Flood conditions change rapidly and it is usually difficult to tell the speed of the current. The lack of water visibility conceals hazards that could trap or injure you, as well as concealing the quality of the road which may be severely degraded by the water.

Drivers also underestimate how little water is needed to move a car. An average car with a surface area of 6–8m2 needs only 10–20cm of water above the bottom of the chassis before it is lifted off the road surface and washed away. Debris and the speed of the water make attempting to drive through floodwaters extremely hazardous.

For the same reason, never attempt to swim or paddle a surf craft across floodwater. Apart from the dangers already mentioned, there is the additional concern of snakes and crocodiles which are either washed in or make their way through the floodwater. Poisonous chemicals, sewage and waterborne diseases may also be present in the water posing a significant health risk.

As its name suggests, flash flooding develops very quickly and in some cases water levels can rise metres within only a few minutes. Swift action is essential to protect life and property. Always keep an eye on the water level when in, on or around rivers and move to safety as quickly as possible if the water level starts to rise.

Click here to download a print friendly version of the Flooding Fact Sheet