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Disaster response: use waste to stay afloat during floods

As monsoon approaches the city the fear of another deluge looms large over the citizens.

Written by N Ganesh |
May 22, 2009 2:56:44 am

As monsoon approaches the city the fear of another deluge looms large over the citizens. In the imminent danger of drowning there are two options — either wait to be rescued or rescue yourself with the help of household items. The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) is showing people how waste material may be used effectively to save lives during floods.

Items such as empty plastic water bottles,plastic pitchers,tin containers,thermocole among others,which are discarded as garbage,can be effectively used as tools to save lives during natural disasters. “Empty plastic water bottles with lids shut tight and strung together can be used as an effective buoy by fastening the contraption around the waist. About eight to nine plastic water bottles of one litre capacity are enough to keep afloat an adult weighing 80 kg,” says a NDRF personnel of 145 Battalion of CRPF. A NDRF team from Pune has put up an exhibition on disaster management during floods at the Thane collector’s office.

Similarly plastic pitchers which are a common sight in rural and slum areas can be modified and used as a buoy. They may be made airtight by covering them with plastic sheets. Two pitchers strung together are enough to keep a person afloat. Apart from water bottles,basketballs can be put to great use during floods. Two basketballs packaged in a net-like material and strung together perform the function of a buoy.

Five or six of the dry unshelled coconuts with their outer fibrous covering intact are as effective as air tight plastic water bottles. The coconuts are so buoyant that in place of eight to nine bottles six are enough to keep a person afloat.

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The NDRF also shows how to make a life-jacket at home. All you need are sheets of polystyrene popularly known as thermocole. About two to three inch layer of sheets measuring about 15×8 inches may be sealed in a plastic sheet to prevent them from getting exposed to water. These sealed sheets of can be sown into any fabric in the form of life jacket.

“Bamboo sticks tied together in the form of a bundle allows a person to remain afloat,” says the NDRF personnel. In fact a small raft may be built using bamboo sticks and kept afloat using air-tight tin containers fastened to the four corners beneath the raft.

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