Flash floods can happen without prior notice. Even during sunny days, the chances of experiencing floods while camping is never zero. After all, the weather today is pretty erratic and turbulent. You'll never know what's coming until a tempest starts slamming your tent and campground.
The most alarming thing about these flash floods is that they can happen in places where you least expect them. For instance, an arid area can be covered by tall and freaky inundations in just a matter of minutes. Hence, whenever you are camping or backpacking, you should never exclude this predicament from the realms of possibilities.
Below are some life-saving tips that can save you from the threats of flash floods.
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Choose Your Location Carefully
One of the best ways to avoid flash floods is to ensure that you camp in a safe location. By doing this, you would be able to bypass various disasters during your stay in the wild.
It would be best if you proceed to an established campsite. There, you can guarantee that you are not easily vulnerable to sudden threats. But if you are planning to camp somewhere else, you have to look for certain indicators like erosion and washouts. They are a sign that an area is a place where water passes through. If you can see these indicators, move somewhere else.
Also, keep in mind that dry stream beds are dangerous campgrounds. You should never settle on them, even though they are appealing. Many think that these dry stream beds are ideal camping sites because they are free from debris and trees. But of course, there's a reason why these obstructions are not found in the area. Heavy downpours can cause flooding to these areas without you getting notified by anything.
Furthermore, you should avoid camping in areas where there are traces of water carvings and channels.
Just because an area is appealing to the eyes doesn't mean that it is the best place to set your tent. Always look for the tell-tale signs of flooding first before you finally settle. And as I mentioned, it is better that you pick an established campsite since it has a tested-and-tried record of not being susceptible to flooding.
Be Discerning About The Weather
As a camper, it is your responsibility to understand the weather patterns of your camping area. Similar to other dangers and hazards in the outdoor world, the best way to deal with flash floods is by avoiding them entirely.
Every time you study the weather, you will be able to somehow "read" or predict the possibilities of encountering rain or storm. But at the same time, this doesn't mean that the weather can be read accurately. There are still flaws in the forecasts, but the little details can actually help you avoid certain disasters.
For instance, understanding what type of clouds typically bring bad weather can help you veer away from potential floods and landslides. Even if the weather is sunny and bright, as long as you see these suspicious signs, you may need to prepare a lot.
Furthermore, understanding the weather may also mean that you have a good grasp of the topography of your destination. As I've mentioned earlier, establishing a camp away from flood-prone areas is a must-do. Furthermore, it is also essential that you stay away from flood lines that the water has previously excavated. There's a big chance that flood water will come gushing on them once the rain starts falling.
Determine The Distance And Extent Of Drainage Areas
If you are camping near a body of water (i.e., river), it is essential that you can gauge the extent or reach of its drainage area. Doing this would allow you to check which spots are considerably safe whenever floods take place. It would also help you assess if your area were in peril if the water started rampaging.
Of course, this is where established campgrounds shine the best. You see, these areas have readily available information regarding their topography. As long as the data is updated, you will no longer have to do the legwork of estimating the drainage. However, if this information is not present, then you have no other choice but to survey your area.
You can do this by surveying the land slope. Again, always be attentive for any signs of past water channels and carvings. You should also look for debris and rocks that have accumulated in various spots. Furthermore, you should check for the presence of nearby uplands, mountains, and hills. The existence of these land formations is an indication that unexpected flows caused by storms are within the realms of possibilities.
Essentially, what you got here are "feedings."
The "feeding" is included in the drainage of a water body. Hence, it is crucial that you know the size of the water body that "feeds" the drainage. For example, if there are large rivers that are feeding the drainage, it is expected that you are at risk. Meanwhile, if you are camping on small rivers, the water feed is just manageable. But this doesn't mean that you are free from danger.
Be Alert At All Times
Prudence and attentiveness can help you survive amidst natural disasters. People who react faster once they see that the water levels are gradually rising are those that can easily get out of danger. It's a wise decision that you should follow, too.
Others think that slight increases and inundations are ignorable; hence, they prefer to remain in their campsite. For some, they seek thrill, and because of that, they remain in harm's way. Well, these things are quick ways to put yourself in deleterious positions.
Surely enough, staying awake the whole night to guard against these sudden changes in the weather and water bodies might be absurd. However, if you are camping within a danger zone, you should consider doing so. Once the rain starts dropping, you need to heighten your senses already.
Find Escape Routes
Planning is always a crucial aspect of camping and other outdoor activities. When you plan correctly and sufficiently, you will be able to take into account every possible distress that could happen.
If you are in a flood-prone area, it is essential that you scout your campsite to see if there are potential escape routes that you can take. Always keep in mind that the ideal escape route should have a solid and stable foundation. Weak and muddy grounds are easily disrupted by floodwater.
Once you can find an escape route, you should clear the debris and obstructions on it. It should remain passable and accessible at all costs. You would want to trip out of nowhere because of some stray branches. If you are camping with a group, you should inform them about the escape route, too. You should also identify various meeting spots so that nobody would get lost in the process.
Furthermore, you have to remind them that their survival is the topmost priority. Hence, it is incorrect that they would delay their escape because they want to save their belongings.
You are also not allowed to pass through moving water. There's a chance that the current is strong or that its depth is too dangerous for you to cross.