Through the rain

Mallika Jhaveri
Monday, 23 July 2018

With the monsoon season here, waterlogged streets and open manholes are common dangers. But if you  keep a few things in mind, you can stay safe

Rain, rain you’ve come again and your floods make our lives a pain! Monsoons in India are much awaited, but the poor condition of roads and the apathy of civic bodies make us worry more and smile less. However, if you do find yourself stranded in the waterlogged streets, there’s no reason to panic. Furthermore, you can take a few lessons from youngsters who experienced such a situation but extricated themselves by quick thinking in the moment.        

Niharika Sharma, who studies at Delhi University, got caught in the horrible Mumbai floods in August last year. She was stuck in an Uber cab for over 3 hours but when the water levels started rising she took a bold move. “The floor of the car was almost like a mini lake,” she said. That’s when she decided to get out of the car and walked to her destination which was nearly 2 km away. It was safer for her to walk since the water level in the car would have continued to rise and could have jammed the doors. “And then there is the added danger of carbon monoxide poisoning,” she says. Sharma suggests that it’s better to wade through the waterlogged roads than suffocate in a car. “Sure it’s a little gross to wade through the dirty water, but it’s safer than being stuck in a metal box,” she says.

When it comes to walking on flooded roads manholes are one of the biggest concerns. Sharing his experience, Aryaman Kothari, a student at NMIMS, Ville Parle, says that while making  his way through knee deep water during monsoon earlier this month he stepped into a small crater by mistake. Had it been a manhole he would have been sucked in. “I got so scared that instead of taking steps, I began sliding my feet across the floor to move ahead. This way I could feel any disturbances on the road and knew when to avoid them. Although it is harder to slide against still water, it’s better in the long run. Your legs will definitely start to hurt, but it’s better than disappearing into a manhole,” he cautions. 

To prevent falling into a manhole, try forming a human chain. During a heavy downpour and waterlogging at Karjat, Rohington Kapadia, former flight attendant, found himself stranded but luckily a few villagers came to his rescue. “I asked them to hold hands and form a human chain. And together we took steps, one at a time. This way, if one person fell, he could be supported by two others,” says Kapadia adding that the human chain is a very effective method. “You’re never stranded alone, there will always be people around you. Use their help to help yourself. And them too,” he says.  

“I’ve been stuck in floods countless times and I always look out for one thing, whirling waters. If you see a mini whirlpool or water moving in circles, go in the opposite direction. Stay at least hundreds of metres away, because it is likely to be a manhole,” says Mishal Ahuja, who studies at University of Miami. Manholes have the power to generate great suction force with a large radius. You could get sucked in or washed away even if you’re not directly over it.

Rajvi Chowdhary, a Mumbai University student, was stuck in her car and couldn’t abandon it. She attempted to drive it all the way home, and eventually it broke down near her apartment because the engine gave way. She realised her mistake soon enough. “To prevent it, I should have kept the engine running in first gear and revving it constantly. It keeps the engine continuously working and warm. By revving the car, you generate exhaust, which prevents water from entering the tailpipe, and this will prevent hydrolock damage to the  engine — a very expensive problem,” she says. Don’t switch off the car to save fuel, keep it running in first gear.

Floods are a tricky natural force to navigate, but by being careful, you can overcome them. And after being caught in a flood, get yourself checked for waterborne diseases immediately. Have a safe monsoon!

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