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Adelaide floods

Adelaide floods
This research is informing education campaigns for flood safety. Photo: South Australia State Emergency Service
Release date
26 Apr 2017
More information:
Dr Katharine Haynes
Alt Project Leader

History provides a lesson in preventing flood deaths

CRC research is now informing community flood warning campaigns, emergency services training and national policy initiatives, with a study led by Dr Katharine Haynes at Risk Frontiers, Macquarie University, investigating the circumstances of all flood fatalities in Australia from 1900 to 2015.

The study explored the socio-demographic and environmental factors surrounding the 1,859 flood fatalities over 115 years, finding distinct trends in relation to gender, age, activity and the circumstances of the death. These trends were analysed in the context of changes to emergency management policy and practice over time.

The NSW State Emergency Service has used the findings of the research for its FloodSafe community campaign and training, while the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services has used it to inform its If It’s Flooded, Forget it campaign.

Hundreds of flood rescues have been conducted over the last two years across the country, says project end-user Dr Elspeth Rae from the NSW SES.

“As a consequence of risky behaviour, flood fatalities and rescues are a constant issue for emergency services. This study has highlighted the significant number of fatalities that have occurred as a consequence of flooding compared to other hazards, particularly as a result of driving through floodwater,” Dr Rae said.

The results of this research are significantly contributing to investigations into preventing flood fatalities by the Prevention of Flood Related Fatalities Working Group of the Community Engagement Sub-committee of the Australia and New Zealand Emergency Management Committee. This working group was led by the NSW State Emergency Service and comprised policy makers, practitioners and researchers involved in flood risk management from Australia and New Zealand.

The latest NSW SES flood campaign videos, informed by this research, are availabe at www.bnhcrc.com.au/news/2017/research-informs-flood-safe-campaign  

More information about the findings from this research are available in Hazard Note 20Where, why and how are Australians dying in floods?

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