You are here

Flood Preparedness in Bangkok

Along with the floods that are ravaging Central Thailand have come recriminations. Emergency services should have acted faster. The government should have been better prepared. People should have taken more responsibility.

Flood Preparedness in Bangkok

Nat's Blog

Along with the floods that are ravaging Central Thailand have come recriminations. Emergency services should have acted faster. The government should have been better prepared. People should have taken more responsibility.

Those of us in Bangkok are unlikely to suffer as badly as those upcountry, but the threat of floods is very real to those who remember the inundations of the 80s and 90s when people resorted to taking boats to work, especially those living in the Khlong Ton area where the waters were particularly high. Bangkok wasn’t known as the Venice of Asia for nothing.

Residents of flood-prone areas are likely to be familiar with the phenomenon of flooding streets and have their own preparations in place, such as sand bags to block water from entering their front gates and even their front doors. It is in times like these that a traditional Thai house built on stilts is a practical design.

There are several US agencies which give recommendations for disaster preparedness, with particular recommendations for flooding. The most prominent of which are:

The American Red Cross
The National Incident Management System (NIMS)
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

The basic checklists include such staples as water, food, a mobile phone, a flashlight, a first aid kit, medications, an all purpose tool (like a pocket knife) and copies of important documents.

The Red Cross adds a camera to photograph damage, insect repellent and sunscreen, which are helpful if one is caught without air conditioning and needs to sleep with windows open or on a balcony. All of these suggestions are helpful, but for Bangkok, there are some supplies that are more important than others. It is highly unlikely, for example, that flood waters will be violent enough to actually sweep away a house. The danger of having to evacuate one’s home is remote. The greater danger comes from water-borne disease and malfunctioning septic tanks. Cars can stall when engines get soaked, stranding drivers and tying up traffic, but there really is little danger beyond getting stranded at work.

My list of essentials would be:
Mobile phones with extra batteries or a portable charger A portable urine bottle for those who get trapped in traffic and are unable to leave their cars due to flooded roads
A credit card and ATM card in case one can’t get home and needs emergency funds
A change of underwear and socks

This list is not meant to trivialise the suffering of those who have experienced severe flooding, loss of property and livelihood. It is actually to reinforce the fact that we are relatively safe in Bangkok and much, much more fortunate than our compatriots upcountry.

29/10/2010 - 10:39

  • Oriental Escapes
  • lotus arts devivre
  • Na Thalang Ancestral Siamese Cuisine
  • WorldFoods
  • Dantemag