Slip Sliding Away – Landslide and Mudslide Safety
Post by: Chris Hall
Hurricane Irene reminded us that wind isn’t the only thing you need to worry about. Large amounts of water quickly saturating an area can lead to landslides and debris flows.
This video from Korea shows the power and sudden onset of a landslide.
Here are some tips for learning and living through landslides:
… about landslide/mudslide risk in your area by contacting your City or County government office of planning. Ask to see flood and landslide risk maps for your area. If your risk is high, you may want to consult with a professional to help you minimize the risk to your property.
… about landslides and debris flow with your family. Everyone should know what to do in case of a landslide threat. Moving debris can flow quickly and sometimes without warning.
…. Many plan formats are available on www.2beeready.org as well as ready.gov and the Red Cross. At the minimum you should have a family meeting place outside of the area, a way to communicate, and a go-kit assembled and with you in your house and car at all times.
Watch for storm-water drainage on slopes near your home, especially the places where runoff water converges, increasing flow over slopes. Watch the hillsides around your home for any signs of land movement, such as small landslides or debris flows, or moving trees. Watch for the small changes around you. Landslides rarely give no warning.
During a slide
Stay alert! Many mudslide fatalities occur when people are sleeping. Have an NOAA alert radio with SAME codes for your area programmed in it. Short bursts of rain can be especially dangerous, especially after longer periods of heavy rainfall.
If you are in areas known to have prior landslides and debris flows, consider evacuating if it is safe. Remember that driving during a storm can be dangerous. If you stay at home, move to a second story if possible. The best prevention for a landslide is to not be there if it happens.
Listen for any unusual sounds that might indicate moving soil. Things like trees cracking.. A trickle of flowing soil may lead to larger landslides.
If you are near a stream or drainage canal, look for signs of a sudden increase or decrease in water flow and for a change from clear to muddy water. If you see water and/or mud rising, evacuate immediately. Save yourself and your family, not your belongings.
Quickly move out of the path of the landslide or debris flow. Try to move laterally, ACROSS the flow, do not run directly away from the slide. Make sure you have your Go Kit nearby so you can grab it escaping the danger.
If you can’t escape, curl into a tight ball and protect your head. Similar to a snow avalanche survival, a tight ball will provide the best protection for your body
Stay away from the slide area. There may be danger of additional slides, utility lines will probably be down, and there may be damage to gas or other utilities.
Check for injured or trapped people near the slide, without entering the slide area.
Place straw around the damaged area, and reseed damaged ground as soon as possible as erosion caused by loss of ground cover can lead to additional flash flooding.
An area that has already liquefied is susceptible to further sliding. Be aware of your risk and your surroundings at all time so you can BeeReady to escape.
Photo courtesy of avatar28.