Severe Storm and Flash Flooding

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1 Severe Storm and Flash Flooding Knowledge Base name SFS doc Subject Scope Safety Fact Sheet Risk from Severe Storm including Flash Flooding This applies to all agencies operating in Victorian Incident Areas and should be read in conjunction with agency procedures. Safety Information / Message All personnel are reminded to be aware of the broad range of potential risks resulting from severe storm and flash flooding. These risks include, Fast flowing and/or deep water Enclosed spaces Hypothermia Swift water Slippery surfaces Injured Animals / Wildlife Biological (e.g Contaminated flood water) Damaged electrical equipment (e.g solar panels) Erosion of road surfaces and or footpaths Moving debris in the water which can range from small to extremely large Falling trees that have been eroded around the base and exposed to high winds The grinding effect of heavily debris laden waters on victims and rescuers alike Unpredictable nature of high velocity water - the force and depth of flowing water is deceptive and relentless This document provides some guidance on typical OHS issues arising during floods. 1. Flash Flooding The following guidelines are provided to reduce risk to the crew during flash flooding: Use extreme care when crossing watercourses as the depth and water flow can increase dramatically within a short period Dry water courses which were previously being crossed may suddenly carry large volumes of water with unknown depths Water courses may carry debris creating increase risks to crews If the Crew Leader/driver is not totally satisfied that a vehicle can proceed safely, do not proceed Never put a crew member in the water to test the depth. Never enter water to free boat / propeller. Version Page 1 of 6 Printed 9/10/ :57 Unless stamped CONTROLLED COPY in RED, then when printed this document is uncontrolled

2 2. Swiftwater The primary responsibility of the First Responder/s is to assess the initial situation, gather accurate and timely information and decide on the best course of action. This may result in an escalation, which could result in added resources such as specially trained and accredited Land based and Water based Rescue Technicians. First responders can: Talk yell and reassure the person in need of rescue and direct them in methods of self-rescue. Immediately do something about the higher risks this could be as simple as getting everyone to back away from the water s edge. Ensure the Victoria Police Rescue Coordination Centre has been notified. Do not enter the water or attempt rescue unless you are a trained Land Based or In Water Swift Water operator. Only those who have completed a swim test and been assessed as competent, should undertake swift water rescues. Never enter water to free boat / propeller unless you are a trained Swift Water Technician 3. Crews need to maintain ongoing Dynamic Risk Assessments during any activities whilst operating in the area and alert others crews / chain of command where significant risks are identified. 4. Enclosed Spaces Atmosphere can become contaminated in enclosed spaces (e.g. pumps used for water removal from a basement). Ensure exhaust gases are ventilated to prevent the build-up of contaminant gases such as carbon monoxide. 5. Be alert for signs of animal agitation. 6. Ensure appropriate PPC is utilised and replaced as necessary (waterlogged), personal hygiene is maintained and agency procedures followed, consider use of hard hats and eye protection during high wind situations 7. Ensure domestic or farm electrical systems are checked before use, as well as any tools or appliances that have been wet. Be aware that solar panels may be generating electricity at a dangerous voltage. Treat all solar panels as live voltage, unless advised by the appropriate authority. Refer SFS Solar Panel Feeds 8. If any part of the solar PV system has been damaged, you need to stay well away from the system until a licensed electrical contractor has attended and made the system safe. 9. Heighten awareness of trees, stability may be compromised and only authorised persons are to mark affected trees as per agency procedures. Version Page 2 of 6 Printed 9/10/ :57

3 10. Vehicles Floodwater Whilst working during the floods crews may be required to drive through flood waters. Flood water may be still or swift moving, and may vary in depth and visibility. Due to the high risk it poses crossing flood water should be avoided unless absolutely necessary. Reducing the risk: Extreme care must be taken before considering driving through water due to unknown depths, debris, or stability of the ground Never put a crew member in the water to test the depth. If the Crew Leader/driver is not totally satisfied that a vehicle can proceed safely, do not proceed Driving heavy vehicles through water can cause bow waves that may impact on neighbouring properties and people. Take care to control this by careful and deliberate driving Road closures must be observed seeking an alternate route or alternative means of access (e.g. aircraft or rescue boat) is the best option Where there is no alternative route or means of access, stop and undertake a risk assessment. If is deemed safe to proceed, vehicles should only drive through flood water to the height of the wheel hubs (wheel centre) Prior to entering water select appropriate gear to travel through water body Once in the water, maintain momentum, DO NOT stop Dry and test brakes after exiting flood water If any vehicle enters flood waters, where the water level exceeds the height of the vehicles hubs, the department responsible for vehicle maintenance should be advised due to potential for damage or the effects on functions such as braking and electric equipment Working at night increases risks due to poor visibility increased vigilance is required. 11. Biological Contaminated Floodwater and Mosquitos are a risk to responders during and after floods Maintain high personal hygiene standards during operations Ensure insect repellent (DEET containing) is used during and after the operation Use long sleeves to minimise insect bites Wash down using clean water and soap after being exposed to floodwaters. Version Page 3 of 6 Printed 9/10/ :57

4 12. Safety when working on and around levees Dynamic risk assessment must be undertaken before and during attendance at Levee Vehicles are to traverse Levees only when absolutely necessary Entry to the area should only be by walking along the levee When inspecting the levee Ensure it is safe to proceed onto the top of the levee Use same entry and exit routes Consideration should be given to the following Establishing a checkpoint at point of entry Establishing a swift water rescue team on standby for levee inspection All persons involved in inspection should have the following equipment Approved PFD Type 1 Lifejacket Waterproof torch Waterproof radio comms back to checkpoint Welfare checks should be conducted every 15 minutes or dependant on outcome of DRA in regards to risks. Version Page 4 of 6 Printed 9/10/ :57

5 IMT Briefings Summary Points Flood Issues SFS 2.01 Use extreme care in crossing watercourses complete a dynamic risk assessment prior to driving through any watercourse. Use extreme caution when working near trees in particular in high wind. Vehicles should only drive through flood water to the height of the wheel hubs. Once in the water maintain momentum do not stop. Dry and test brakes after exiting flood water. Never put a crew member in the water to test the depth. Only trained Land Based or In Water Swift Water operators, who have already completed a swim test and have been assessed as competent, should undertake swift water rescues. The primary responsibility of the First Responder/s is to assess the initial situation, gather accurate and timely information and decide on the best course of action, including seeking support of appropriate rescue teams. Be aware of hazards around animals, solar panels, electricity, road closures Working safely around levees, minimise vehicle movement on levee. Ensure biological risks are being managed, personal hygiene and reduce risk of insect bites NOTE: For further information call (03) or A signed copy of this document is held at SCC Records. Revision History Topic No Topic Name Procedure Owner Remote Copies Revision Date SFS SFS-Flood Issues Emergency Management Commissioner None Amendment Detail 09/10/2016 safety in relation to levees, solar systems, also biological risk. 13/01/2016 Amended following agency feedback include swift water rescue (first responder) and other changes in line with revised SFS template 18/08/2014 Changes in line with transition to EMV Barry Harkin Addition of IMT Briefing Summary Points. 31/12/2013 Incorporated Safety graphic Barry Harkin. 06/08/2013 Amended following agency feedback 30/06/2013 Initial release. Version Page 5 of 6 Printed 9/10/ :57

6 End of Topic Unless stamped CONTROLLED COPY in RED, then when printed this document is uncontrolled. Copyright This information is the property of the Emergency Management Commissioner. No part of this information may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including but not limited to, photocopy, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the prior written permission. Version Page 6 of 6 Printed 9/10/ :57

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