A mudslide occurs when earth debris and large amounts of water culminate into a flow of moving earth. Mudslides sometimes referred to as mudflows or landslides, are dangerous natural disasters that are a threat to human life and cause immense amounts of property damage. Each year, 25 to 50 people die from mudslides which cause on average $2 - 4 billion of damage.


Because of these serious realities, it’s important to be prepared for a mudslide event, especially if you are in an area that is high risk. If you’re unaware of your area's risk, contact your local experts, your county's geologist, the local planning department, the state department of natural resources, or even local university departments of geology to better understand your situation.


If you are a victim of a mudslide event, what’s next? Below is a list of several tips to follow after a mudslide, but you should always remember to be proactive.


If you follow that basic principle of action, you’ll navigate your way through this crisis quickly and efficiently. 


A mudslide is disturbed by earth particles, and the ground soil is still very unstable. To venture into the flow is to put yourself at risk because primary mudslides often produce secondary mudslides. In other words, if the mudslide event seems to be finished, it doesn’t mean it actually is.


When it comes to mudslides, or any serious natural disaster, please prioritize safety! 


As obvious as it might sound, mudslides are dangerous. Your neighbors and friends may likely be in danger and need help. Check on them. Though it’s unwise to seek to help those trapped in the midst of a mudslide, you can contact emergency services and seek to direct help. 


If a mudslide creates a dangerous environment around you, you go! Leave the area immediately. It is that simple. Ideally, though, you’d be prepared beforehand. Here are a few tips for preparation:


  1. Knowing where to go.

Every homeowner needs to have a good handle on evacuation routes. You need to know where you are and where exactly you plan to go.


Planning these routes in advance will save valuable decision-making moments. Having access to accurate maps will allow you to navigate even if your phones are dead and you have limited access to cell service.


  1. Knowing what to bring.

Every home should be equipped with an emergency readiness bag that is accessible and fully supplied. This bag should have the type of stuff you need to survive: food, first aid supplies, and the right kind of tools. FEMA offers a full list of recommendations on its website. If you don’t have a kit, it’s time to build one.


Report the event to the proper authorities. Because you are at ground zero of the mudslide, you are at the frontline of the event. Most likely you are one of the few people who know this has actually happened. Contact emergency services so they’re aware of the event and can respond accordingly.


Consult a geotechnical expert who is a professional engineer with soil engineering expertise. This person can help you navigate what to do next. They can give you direction for reducing additional landslide problems and risks.

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