Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Alternative Flotation Devices

Back when Hurricane Harvey was flooding Texas, I promised Erin an article on "alternative flotation devices," or in my native redneck vernacular, "Stuff what floats." While traditional boats are the best option for getting out of a flooded area, plenty of other common items float well enough to provide aid.

Note that I said "getting out of a flooded area." Do not go back into flood zones without proper equipment and training! Do not cross flood waters if any safe alternative exists! Water is powerful and deceptive, and will sweep you away before you can react to it.

If you've decided that you need to get out, but lack a proper boat, take a look around; you're bound to find something that will keep your head above water. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Air Mattresses
If it's inflatable and designed to support the human body, it'll work. Floating pool loungers are designed for water, but in a pinch even a camping air bed will do. The larger the mattress, the more stable it is in the water and the more people it will support.

The common cooler made by Igloo, Coleman, and a dozen other companies is cheap, universally common, and will float like a cork. (Some might require duct tape to keep the lid closed. You do have duct tape handy, don't you?) Look for the ones with a plastic shell and foam fill. As a side benefit, they're fairly water tight, and therefore can keep important items dry and safe.

Wood Furniture
If you've got a large wooden table or solid (not hollow core) door, turn it flat against the water and it will float nicely with the added benefit of being fairly stable. Taller furniture like dressers and armories will also float, but will be far less stable. Tables and doors can also carry some cargo, but don't expect it to stay dry.

Yes, I mean Levi Strauss-style denim leg covers. Pants legs in good repair will hold enough air to keep a person afloat while they escape a flood. It's a trick I learned as a young Boy Scout, and we were crazy enough to test it fairly extensively. This video is a great demonstration of the process.

Plenty of things in this world float. If you have to get yourself out of a bad spot, look around and see what will bouy you up.


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