What to do in a flood in Singapore

When it comes to rom-coms, we love the idea of being swept off our feet. When it comes to floods, not so much. While natural disasters are rare in Singapore, we’re sure you have noticed the increasing number of flood incidents both locally and regionally. Here’s what to do during a flood in Singapore, and mistakes to avoid this rainy season in order to stay safe.

– If you’re walking –

Do: Tune in to the radio & check social media for updates

flood singapore - PUB X
Image adapted from: @PUBSingapore via X

True to its name, flash floods can happen within minutes of heavy rainfall. So, social media and radio broadcasts are your best bets for getting your updates pronto.

PUB posts flash flood warnings and updates on @PUBsingapore on X – formerly Twitter – and Gov.sg-PUB Flood Alerts on Telegram. You’re also encouraged to download the NEA myENV (iOS, Android) app, where you can receive environmental updates in a matter of seconds. 

Do: Find a dry spot away to wait for help to arrive 

flood singapore - shelter
Image credit: @whitemirrors_ via X

You know this from disaster movies – don’t touch any live wires. One of the first things you should do is to find a dry spot away from electrical cables and wait for help to arrive. Singapore’s emergency responders will also be deployed to direct traffic, set up flood barriers, and render assistance to anyone who needs help.

flood singapore - emergency responder PUB
Image credit: PUB Singapore Facebook 

You can report the flood by dialing  PUB’s 24-hour hotline at 1800-2255-782 or 6521 6470. If in case of an emergency, hit 995. While you’re at it, keep this compilation of emergency hotlines in Singapore handy.

Don’t: Walk or swim through moving water 

flood singapore - no swimming
Flooded train station in Sweden. It looks fun, but getting injured isn’t!!
Image credit: @svanstorm via Instagram

You’ll be surprised to know that just 15cm of moving water can make you fall. Not to mention, the flood water could be contaminated with all sorts of gunk from waste to sewage. It could also have sharp objects or animals like insects or snakes. 

If you have no choice but to cross the flood, try to find a spot where the water is still, or has slower flow. Apart from chope-ing tables at the kopitiam, your brolly will also come in handy here – use it as a walking stick to check the depth of water and firmness of the ground before taking a step.

– If you’re in a car –

Do: Keep driving if the kerbs are still visible

flood singapore - shallow flood
Image credit: PUB Singapore Facebook

If the flood is shallow enough that you are still able to see the kerbs on the side of the road, keep driving slowly in low gear. You’ll want to drive at a constant speed, keep a safe distance between you and the next guy, and avoid hitting the brakes until you’re on higher ground.

Don’t: Continue to drive if flood water reaches the bottom edge of the car

flood singapore - severe flood
Image credit: SG Car Mart

When you see water levels reach the bottom edges of the cars around you, find a safe spot to exit the vehicle. It’s time to turn on your hazard lights and evacuate. PSA: Once water levels reach about 30cm, your car can stall and driving will not be possible. 60cm of flood can sweep your vehicle away.

Do: Get out through the window if you can’t open the door

flood singapore - stuck in car
Image credit: Singapore Laughs via Facebook

In the unlikely event that water levels get so high that you can’t open the door, here’s what you should do. Don’t panic, breathe! There’s another way out. Roll down your window and wiggle your way out from there. Do not smash the glass, no matter how jumbled your nerves are!

Don’t: Stand on the roof of your car 

While you’re advised to avoid contact with flood water, standing on the roof of a car is a big no-no. If the car starts to float or shift abruptly, you risk doing a Humpty Dumpty and getting a fall injury. Stay seated on the hood or roof of the car, or make your way towards a nearby dry spot if possible.

Here’s quick roundup of the essential dos and don’t for drivers:

flood singapore - infographic guide
Image credit: MustShareNews

– If you are indoors –

Do: Try to stop water from entering the building 

flood singapore - inflatable flood bag
PUB inflatable flood bags.
Image credit: PUB via Facebook

Fortunately for most HDB dwellers, we don’t have to worry too much about flash floods invading our home. But if you happen to be in a ground floor apartment, landed property, shopping mall, or school, try to stop water from entering the building by using barricades.

PUB has been distributing flood bags to some high-risk areas. You can also purchase flood bags on Shopee for under $10 for emergency use.

Do: Turn off electrical supplies 

flood singapore - orchard road
Orchard Road’s flooding in 2010.
Image credit: Anything First Larh

Turn off all switches to prevent any electrical risks. In malls, avoid standing near light fixtures and wires. For those at home, you’ll also want to move any valuables like your precious PS5 or laptop to a high table or shelf to prevent water damage.

Dos & don’ts during a flood in Singapore 

Floods don’t happen too often in Singapore but this is an example where we could all afford to be more kiasi, which literally translates to “scared to die”. Read up on the 101s – a bit of general knowledge can go a long way. You never know when you’ll suddenly find yourself in nature’s surprise swimming pool.

For more utility guides:

Cover image adapted from: @svanstorm via Instagram, AutoApp

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