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by the NFCC


Inaccurate situational awareness: Water rescue and flooding

Hazard Knowledge

Water and flood environments can have appreciable variations over short distances and can change rapidly as weather conditions and conditions upstream alter. This presents significant challenges when gathering information to establish accurate situational awareness. It may not be possible to identify sub-surface hazards, undertows and variations in depth before committing personnel to the water, but every effort should be made to identify pertinent information.

Accurately identifying hazards, water conditions and weather conditions are important factors when planning a response to an incident. When gathering information, incident commanders should consider:

  • Speed of flow
  • Depth
  • Hydrology
  • Water hazards and features
  • Weather conditions and likely variations
  • Upstream conditions
  • Water temperatures
  • Tidal patterns
  • Debris
  • Unstable or unsafe structures

Any assessment of conditions can vary significantly over short distances or time periods and should be updated regularly.

When considering flood events, the development duration and scale of the incident should be considered.