Floods: what you can do to prepare

Be prepared. That's the key advice emergency and rescue experts have for people caught up in the floods in Queensland and northern NSW.

Floodwaters are continuing to rise in some towns. Here is a list of some of the things you can do to remain safe during this period of time.

Follow instructions from emergency services

"It's really important that people heed the advice of the emergency services when we give them out," Phil Campbell of the NSW State Emergency Service said. This includes following the calls for evacuations and not entering floodwaters, he said.

If at home, be alert and prepared

- Stay tuned to your local radio station for the latest news.

– Put together an emergency kit that includes plenty of water, fresh batteries, food and medicine, a list of emergency contact numbers, torch, candles and waterproof matches, a waterproof bag for valuables.

- Identify evacuation routes and centres.

– Be ready to evacuate.

- If you have no power, make sure you have a spare battery for your mobile phone handy, as well as a car charger. You can then turn the car's engine's on and plug in the charger when you want to make a call, Mr Campbell said.

- If you are cut off from everyone and unable to raise the alarm, hang a white sheet outside your window so the emergency services' helicopters are more likely to spot you.

"It's not a guarantee but it's the only thing you can do," Mr Campbell said.

If you have to evacuate

- If you have time, bring in your outdoor furniture.

- Unplug your electrical appliances.

– Move your essential items off the floor or to a higher floor.

- Turn off your gas and electric mains if asked to.

- Don't touch your electrical appliances if you are standing in water.

- Bring along your emergency kit.

- Lock up your home before your leave.

- Wear a pair of strong shoes.

- Only walk through standing water. Even a low level of moving water can knock you over. Use a stick to check if the ground in front of you is stable.

Do not

- Swim, wade through floodwaters.

- Drive through floodwaters.

If your home becomes dangerous, get out and find the highest possible ground, ideally a two-storey building, Mr Campbell said. Don't walk through floodwaters.

"Floodwaters can contain sewage, animals, other contaminants, hidden objects, branches, trees and cars, so there are good reasons to stay out of them," Mr Campbell said.

"The velocity and depth of the water can pull you under very quickly, even if there water looks calm and inviting."

Sources: Emergency Management in Australia www.ema.gov.au and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), United States

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