How to Survive a Mudslide

Опубликовал Admin
12-01-2018, 14:00
Mudslides, also called debris flows, can be destructive and deadly natural disasters. If your area is at risk, reviewing safety procedures and coming up with a survival plan can help you feel more secure and even save your life.

Escaping and Surviving the Mudslide

  1. Drive away from the mudslide if you have time. When you see warning signs of a mudslide or hear of them on the news, begin evacuating. Listen carefully to reports so you can avoid driving through other areas at risk. Drive carefully and avoid flooded roads, which may occur if the mudslides are caused by heavy rain. If you see a flooded street, turn around and find an alternate route.
    • Never drive through water of an unknown depth. Even 6 inches (15 cm) of water can cause cars to stall; 1 foot (30 cm) will make most cars float, while 2 feet (61 cm) at speed can carry away even large cars.
    • Look out for and avoid downed power lines.
    • If you have time, warn neighbors of the danger. If the mudslide is not yet in the news, call your fire or police department.
  2. Run laterally away from the mudslide if you can’t drive. If the mudslide is imminent or the roads are too damaged to drive, you may still be able to escape by foot. Head laterally away from the mudslide. Don’t try to run towards the mudslide or downhill from it, as you won’t be able to outrun it.
    • Some mudslides can be over a mile wide. If this is the case, or if the mudslide is simply too close to you to try to run from, stay indoors and prepare as much as you can.
  3. Go upstairs or on roof of your building to get away from the mud. Getting to a higher level in your house can help you avoid getting stuck in or swept away by the mud. If you don’t have a second story, go onto the roof, as long as you can do so safely. Move quickly but carefully and stay calm.
    • Staying upstairs or on the roof can also make it easier for helicopter rescue crews to see and rescue you.
  4. Curl up under a table and cover your head. When the slide passes through, get on the floor and curl into a ball, making sure to protect your head in case of debris. If you can, take shelter under a table or in a bathtub.
  5. Form an air pocket around yourself if you’re trapped in the mud. If you find yourself trapped in the mud, don’t panic. Continue covering your head to protect from rushing debris. Once the mud stops moving, try to shift around and get your head free or create an air pocket around yourself. The mud will start solidifying as it dries, so do this as quickly as possible.
    • Conserve your energy and stay positive. You can survive 3-4 days without water, and rescue crews are likely already out and looking for survivors.
  6. Get out of your car if you were hit by a mudslide while driving. If you’re able to exit your car safely, roll down your windows and plan out an escape route before opening the door. Make sure you’re able to make it completely out of the mudslide area. If you can’t or aren’t sure, remain inside and don’t try to force your way out.
    • If you have to stay in your car, don’t panic. Remember that your car will protect you from debris and from being dragged by the mud and water.
  7. Call for help and stay updated on the news. If you’re trapped in your house and have access to a phone, call the police or the fire department for help. Check the news on your phone to get updated on potential subsequent slides or other dangers.
    • If you can’t get to a phone, remain inside and hang a bright blanket or towel out of the window to let rescue crews know that you’re inside.
  8. Call out to rescuers when you hear them. Rescue crews might be coming by car, on foot, or even by helicopter, so keep an eye out for them. When you hear or see them, call out or wave your hands. Stay calm and follow their instructions as they work to free you.

Recognizing Warning Signs

  1. Pay attention to soil quality and weather reports. Mudslides occur most frequently after a fire has weakened soil on a steep slope. Heavy rain can destabilize the soil and cause a mudslide. If a fire has burned over a hill near your house and new trees and vegetation haven’t been able to regrow yet, stay alert for rain forecasts. If heavy rain occurs in your area, be on the lookout for warning signs of a mudslide.
  2. Stay alert and awake during severe storms if you’re at risk of a mudslide. If you live near an at-risk slope and are experiencing a major storm, stay awake and be alert to warning signs. Many deaths from mudslides happen when people are asleep and aren’t able to prepare. By staying awake, watching the news and being prepared, you’ll be able to evacuate or get to higher ground if necessary.
  3. Look for tilting trees or fences. Mudslides will push over trees, fences, and utility poles. Be on the lookout for these objects being tilted or pushed over, which can indicate the beginning of a mudslide.
  4. Watch for cracks in the soil, especially on slopes. Look at the top of the slope and see if the ground looks like it’s cracking open. This means that dirt and debris is starting to slide, a sign that a mudslide is about to start. The mudslide will start slowly from this point, but will rapidly pick up speed.
    • You can also look for bulges at the base of the slope, which indicate that the dirt at the top of the slope has started to slide down.
  5. Observe sudden building damage or doors and windows jamming. When the ground begins to slip during a mudslide, you might see outside structures, such as stairs, begin to separate from their buildings. For the same reason, doors or windows might start jamming as doorways and hinges are disrupted by the shifting ground.
  6. Look for water accumulating in strange places. The shifting ground that occurs during a mudslide might cause water to gather in places where it usually wouldn’t. It can also cause a drop in water levels in streams and creeks. Look out your windows and see if you notice any puddles in odd places, or a sudden decrease in water in a nearby creek.
  7. Listen for rumbling noises. Mudslides are typically preceded by a rumbling sound made by the earth and debris as it rushes down a hillside. Stay alert and listen for these noises. It might be too late to leave your house if you can hear the approaching mudslide, so stay inside and prepare as well as you can.

Returning After a Mudslide

  1. Stay away from the area until the threat of mudslides has passed. If you’ve evacuated from your home due to a mudslide, don’t return until you’ve been notified by the authorities that it’s safe to do so. Watch the news and stay alert to changing conditions. Mudslides or floods might still be actively occurring even after the rain has stopped.
  2. Direct rescue crews towards trapped people, if it’s safe to do so. If you see someone trapped in the mud or can’t locate a family member or neighbor, call the police or fire department. Flag down a rescue crew if you see them in the area.
    • Don’t enter the slide area or try to rescue the person yourself without any backup. You might trap yourself or get hurt. If you’re determined to help, ask a rescue crew if you can volunteer.
  3. Boil any tap water in your home before using. Mudslides often break or contaminate pipelines, so drink bottled water or boil tap water when you return to your home. Follow the news or call local authorities to see when the tap water has been confirmed safe to use again.
  4. Report broken utility lines. Broken power and utility lines can add a further threat of injury to an already dangerous situation. If you see a damaged line, call your power company or police department right away. The utilities will be turned off to prevent further danger, like a gas leak or electrocution.
  5. Call your home insurance company to report damage. Once it’s safe to return to your home, look around and take pictures of any damage you see. See if there’s mud in any downstairs rooms, or any cracks in the walls, ceiling, or floors. Look for broken appliances, furniture or decoration. Take pictures of your entire house before touching or moving anything. Then, call your home insurance company to file a claim and get help to start repairing or rebuilding.
  6. Replant the soil as soon as you can. Once you’re able to return to your home, take steps right away to strengthen the soil. Plant trees and bushes to stabilize the ground and prevent flash flooding, which can often occur after major erosion, as well as future mudslides.

Being Prepared for a Mudslide

  1. Understand what a mudslide is and what causes it. Mudslides typically occur when rain or snow seeps into the ground on a steep slope and destabilizes it, causing it to slide. Though they can be caused by natural disasters like earthquakes, most mudslides are the result of a fire wiping out trees on a hillside, causing the roots to die and leaving soil unanchored. Heavy rain disrupts the friction in the dirt, the last thing holding it in place, and creates a mudslide.
    • Mudslides are also called debris flows, and are often considered a type of landslide.
  2. Be aware of mountains or slopes, even if they don’t seem close. Some mudslides can stretch over 1 mile (1.6 km) long and wipe out whole towns. Your house doesn’t have to be directly at the bottom of a slope to be affected; major mudslides like these can accelerate fast enough to damage onto structures on flat land, too.
  3. Come up with an emergency plan for your family. Give different family members different tasks. One person could gather up the family in case of a mudslide, another could call the emergency services, and another could be in charge of food. Gather water and non-perishable food in a safe room, in the second story, an attic, or an easily-accessible room on the first floor. Put together a first aid kit and emergency pack with a phone and charger, a flashlight, a blanket, and a whistle.
    • Practice your emergency plan a few times a year to make sure everyone knows it well.
  4. Talk to a geotechnical expert for ways to make your home safer. If you’re worried about the threat of a mudslide in your area, ask the local authorities to recommend a geologist you can talk to. They can tell you whether there’s been a history of local mudslides and advise you on how to make your home safer.
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