Rain, rain go away
Come again another day….and so goes a nursery rhyme. There is certain angst in those words. While some do romanticize the monsoons, many others curse. But, as they say, you can love it or hate it but you can’t ignore it.
Monsoon, also known as the rainy season, is really a shifting wind pattern that brings about a change in the weather resulting in rains over an area. In India, we have two monsoons: The South West monsoon, which is the main rainy season, generally starts in June and continues till the middle of September. Of late, this time frame is not rigid in its timeline and may extend on either side of the scale due to the many climatic changes that are happening around us.
The period from October to December is more commonly known as the North-East Monsoon. This rainfall activity happens in the Eastern part of the Southern peninsula in India mainly Tamil Nadu, Pudduchery, Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra Pradesh. These areas are generally known to be in the rain shadow of the South-West Monsoon.
People wait for the arrival of the monsoon with obvious glee for two primary reasons: (1) to get relief from the summer heat and (2) to hope for a good supply of water for their daily needs. The farmers are also very happy with the timely arrival of the monsoon for agriculture is their lifeline.
So far so good, now lets us look at the other side of the monsoon. This is when havoc happens with floods, landslides, house collapses and the like. It throws normal life out of gear causing immense hardships to the people and often, it is life-threatening. We have seen it happening in the recent past: the Mumbai floods, floods in Uttarakhund and more recently the Chennai one.
Most of these type of problems occur because we are not prepared, whether it is the individual or the government. So what precautions should an individual take to protect against the fury of the monsoon?
Different precautions are needed to be taken depending on whether you live in an apartment block, an independent house, the topography and location of the place. For instance, if you live on the ground floor of an apartment or an independent house, if the area is prone to flooding you need to take different precautions like moving all your valuable furniture to safe areas, making provisions to pump out flood water, if that is a possibility or moving out to safe areas as a last resort. Life is more important than material things.
The following are just some guidelines but nothing beats common sense in such situations.
Always do a pre-monsoon check to prevent a future calamity.
Wooden furniture tends to get damp and moldy in wet weather Cover them in plastic, if you can or keep them dry regularly.
Do not let windows unlatched and open as strong winds during the rains could batter them, breaking the window panes.
Stagnant water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes and hence do not let any water stagnation happen in your house or flat.
Carpets will get mildew if the area is damp, therefore, it is advisable to roll them up, cover in plastic sheets and store them away.
Get all leaky areas, roof, windows, door jambs attended to before the rains. If you live under a terrace, see that the terrace is water-proofed to prevent any damage to the walls and ceiling of the house. Water entering the electrical conduits could also lead to short circuit and fire, sometimes.
Do not let small children play near any storm water drains. Insist that all man holes are covered and not left open.
Don’t wait for the government agencies to act on their own; you must drive them to do so.
Ensure that the drains in the building are not clogged and cluttered. Get them cleaned out; otherwise, this could lead to flooding. A majority of water borne diseases and illness outbreaks happen during the rainy season.
Stock up enough drinking water, food, torches, candles and batteries as a precautionary measure. If there are babies and infants in the house stock up enough baby food. Don’t wait for your cooking gas cylinder to give up on you at such a critical point in time. Power outages are also common in such rough weather.
Unplug all sensitive electrical appliances and equipment during a stormy weather. It could create a power surge which can damage any equipment connected to an electrical plug point. It is also advisable to unplug your land phone connection.
Do not venture out or attempt to drive when there is a flood situation; the flow of the water and the force of the current is very deceptive. It is safer to stay inside your car and do not use any electronic equipment if there is a lightning hit.
First aid kit and some medicines for headache, cold and cough, fever and diarrhea should be kept handy. It is advisable to get an insurance policy to cover such situations.
Prepare a disaster plan with emergency numbers like ambulance, police, hospital, disaster management centres, etc. should a need arise. Remember forewarned is always forearmed.
Stanley Varghese for IndiaProperty.com
Image: By Edal Anton Lefterov – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17512462