looding is the temporary covering by water of land not normally covered by water. Flood causes threats to humans, buildings, critical infrastructure, environment, and economical activities of being flooded and damaged.
Floods are natural phenomena, but one of the causes of the increase in the frequency of floods is undoubtedly high anthropization and the growth of impervious surfaces of the territory, which prevents the infiltration of rain into the ground, increasing the quantity and speed of water flowing to rivers. Anything that blocks, obstructs or prevents the natural flow of water (debris or vegetation or) can trigger an overflow and cause a flooding.
Floods are one of the most recurring natural hazards in the region of Western Balkans and Turkey.
- Result from rain, snow, coastal storms, storm surges and overflows of dams and other water systems.
- Develop slowly or quickly. Flash floods can come with no warning.
- Cause outages, disrupt transportation, damage buildings, create landslides, cause pollution.
Main emergencies in the region
2014 Floods in Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina
In mid-May 2014, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia experienced the worst flood in over 120 years. The extreme floods had been caused by heavy rainfall duringBarn three days, from 14 to 16 May 2014. In Bosnia, one third of the country was flooded, affecting over one million people. Officials stated that more than a quarter of the population had no access to clean water. In Serbia, tens of thousands of people had to be evacuated from their homes. Losses are being estimated to amount to a billion Euros.
What you can do
Remember that river waters are highly polluted during and after floods and carry floating debris possibly causing injuries or liable to knock you unconscious.
Listen to the radio or watch TV for any warnings about bad weather.
Cars and objects can temporarily obstruct roads or passageways, which may collapse. Take your car to a safe place out of reach of floods, as long as there is not a state of pre-alarm and it is not raining; roads often become true and proper rivers in full flood.
- It is always useful to have an electric torch and a battery radio for tuning into local stations and listening for any useful information
- Save property located in places liable to flooding, only if you are in a completely safe situation
- Make sure that everyone at potential risk has been informed about the situation
- If you live on an upper floor, offer hospitality to those living on floors below you and vice versa ask for hospitality if you live on the lower floors
- Put up safety barriers to protect ground floors and close or block doors to cellars or basements
- It is best to stay home, as long as you do not run the risk of being flooded
- Teach the children what to do in emergencies, such as turning off the gas or phoning the help numbers.
During (alarm or event in progress)
- It is essential to remember that there may only be a slight difference, difficult to foresee, between pre- alarm and alarm or event in progress: rain only has to be concentrated in a restricted area to trigger off sudden floods.
- Turn off the gas, heating and electricity. Be careful not to be exposed to any electrical parts with wet hands and feet
- Go up to the upper floors without using the lift
- Never go down to cellars or garages to save objects or stores
- Do not try to take your car or agricultural machinery to a safe place: there is danger of being trapped in the debris and carried away by the currents
- Avoid confusion and keep calm
- Help the disabled and older people in your building to reach safety
- Do not drink water from the tap in the house: it could be polluted.
Outside the home
- Avoid using your car unless strictly necessary
- If you are in the car, do not try to reach destination at all costs, find shelter in the nearest and safest building
- Avoid transit or stopping on the banks of watercourses, bridges or footbridges
- Be careful of underground passageways: they are easily flooded
- If you are on a trip or excursion, ask a local person for help; they may know where it is safe
- Escape towards higher ground and never go downwards
- Avoid passing under natural or artificial embankments
- Do not take cover underneath isolated trees
- Use the telephone only when strictly necessary to avoid overloaded lines.
- After reaching a safe place, pay full attention to information provided by the civil protection authority through radio, TV and clearly identified civil protection vehicles
- Avoid contact with the waters; they can often be polluted by petrol, fuel oil or sewage water; also electrically charged by underground electricity lines;
- Avoid areas where currents are still flowing
- Be careful of places where the water has retreated. The road surface may be weakened and liable to collapse under the weight of a car
- Throw away any food wetted by flood waters
- Be careful of bathroom utilities, septic tanks and damaged cesspits. Damaged drainage systems are serious sources of risk.
To keep on hand
It is also useful to always keep some objects of fundamental importance in case of emergencies somewhere in the home in a place known by the whole family, such as:
- First aid kit + medicines
- Non-perishable foodstuffs
- Heavy shoes
- Reserve of drinking water
- Spare heavy clothing
- Light raincoats or oilskins
- Electric torch with spare battery
- Radio and spare batteries
- Multipurpose knife
- Photocopy of ID’s
- Keys to the house
- Property of value (cash and valuables)
- Paper and pen.
forest fire or, more in general, a wildfire, is an uncontrolled fire of vegetation occurring in vegetated areas, which can propagate in the surrounding forests. Forest fires are rarely caused by natural phenomena (such as lighting and volcanic eruptions) and more often caused by humans (negligence or voluntary). They can happen anywhere, anytime there is dry vegetation acting as fuel. After the ignition the behaviour of the fire depends by many factors, but it can become easily uncontrolled in case of highly flammable vegetation, very dry atmospheric conditions, and wind.
The predisposing factors of forest fires are all the aspects that favour the ignition and the spread of fire. They are the elements of reference for developing risk prediction indicators:
- Features of vegetation: flammability of different species, moisture content, the status of forests and their management
- Climatic conditions: the factors that most influence forest fires behaviour are wind, humidity and temperature
- Morphology of the terrain: it affects fires especially in presence of slope (the rate of spread increases in sloping soils). Also, exposure play a key role considering wind direction and the impact on fire behaviour. In addition, southwest exposed slopes are more prone to the action of the sun and therefore become dryer.
Main emergencies in the Western Balkan Region and Turkey
During the summer season 2021 several extreme wildfires affected Western Balkans and Turkey. The burned areas in Western Balkans were almost double that the average in the period 2008-2020 (EFFIS statistics). North Macedonia and Albania activated the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism to cope with the increasing number of uncontrollable fires.
In Turkey more than 270 forest fires burned for many days killing people and causing large damages to forests, critical infrastructures, and buildings across 53 provinces in the southern coast of Anatolia. In this case the total burned area was almost six time greater than the average in the period 2008-2020 (EFFIS statistics). More than 1500 square kilometres burned in only two weeks between the 22nd of July and the 5th of August demonstrating the impact of persistent extreme weather conditions affecting wildfire behaviour and difficulties to control their propagation.
What can you do
To avoid a fire
- Do not burn stubble, straw, or other agricultural residues without proper safety measures. In a few minutes, you may not be able to control the fire
- Do not light fires in the woods. Use only equipped areas. Do not leave the fire and make sure it is completely extinguished before leaving
- Do not throw cigarette butts or matches that are still lit, as they can ignite dry grass
- When parking your car, make sure that the muffler is not in contact with the dry grass. The hot muffler could easily ignite the grass
- Do not leave the waste in the woods or in illegal dumps. They are a dangerous fuel
When the fire is in progress
- If you see flames or even just smoke, call the emergency numbers of the National Fire Department or, where activated, the single emergency number 112. Do not think that anybody has already done so. Provide the necessary information to identify the location of the fire
- Find a safe escape route: a road or a waterway. Do not stop in places where the wind is blowing. You may be trapped in the flames and no longer have an escape route
- Lie on the ground in a place where there is no burning vegetation. The smoke tends to rise, so avoid breathing it
- If you have no alternative, try to cross the fire where it is less intense to pass by the already burnt side and reach a safe place
- The fire is not a show. Do not stop along the roads. It would interfere with the rescue and communications needed to manage the emergency