The Barbados Fire Service (BFS) is urging residents to know their risks as it relates to flooding, and to put plans in place to evacuate early, where possible.
Acting Station Officer of the BFS, Patrick Edwards, issued this caution as it relates to flooded roads and flooding of communities and homes during an interview with the Barbados Government Information Service.
“Know your risk factor. Know if there is a history of flooding in your area. If you know your area is one that is flood-prone, I advise you to make your way out to safe harbour very early,” he advised.
The fireman expressed concern over the chances taken by motorists during significant rainfall as they attempt to make their way home.
“But there is an inherent danger in your quest to try to get home. There are many areas in Barbados that never use to flood that we find are now flooding. There are some areas that we know will always be flooded,” Mr. Edwards pointed out.
He said persons often become trapped when they try to traverse flooded roads in their vehicles, sometimes resulting in them having to be rescued by the BFS.
The Acting Station Officer urged motorists not to attempt to drive across water where they could not see the wheels of the vehicle ahead of them. “Once you recognise that it is not possible, or that it can be dangerous for you, … park, or stay in place at your work environment or wherever you are until those waters go off,” he warned.
However, he advised motorists who find themselves trapped in vehicles with water rising on the bonnet to evacuate through a window and get to the highest point and signal for help.
“I would not want persons, especially if the water is moving, to get out of the vehicle and step into the water, if they are unsure of its height. Get to the highest point of the vehicle and try to attract the attention of someone,” Mr. Edwards said.
The fireman also expressed concern about the potential flooding in homes. “I don’t want people to get comfortable in saying that never happened before, or that can’t happen up here, we live on a hill. We have seen situations where because of … backing-up, water rises abnormally,” he said, while imploring persons to take charge of their personal safety.
That, he said, meant not getting comfortable and watching television during heavy rains, then to be startled by water coming under the door from rising water.
The Acting Station Officer stated that while it was “okay” to be comfortable, persons should still be aware of what is going on, and pay attention to what is happening in their environment.
He also advised that in cases where there could be flooding that homeowners should turn off their gas and main breaker switches to enhance their safety.
“I want persons to always be aware of their environment, and if they think that there is any chance of it happening, make their way out. Evacuate as early as possible. If they are caught unexpectedly, try to get to the highest point of the house or building and try to get the attention of somebody,” Mr. Edwards stressed.