Flood in Australia. Credit: Ravitejag

According to a Queensland University of Technology (QUT) study, which listed floods among the nation's deadliest of natural disasters, there have been at least 73 flood-related deaths from 1997 to 2008.

Most of the flood deaths occurred in NSW or Queensland and most often during February.

Males make up more than 70 per cent of those who died, in range of 10 to 29 or over 70 years of age.

According to Dr Gerry FitzGerald of QUT and colleagues, many of the deaths were also preventable.

In Australia, floods are viewed relatively benignly as they bring an end to drought and a promise of more fertile times in rural areas, said Dr FitzGerald.

However, floods remain a real risk to health in Australia.

In modern developed countries with adequate emergency response systems and extensive resources, flood-related deaths were almost always preventable, said the researchers.

Nearly 90 per cent of flood-related deaths occurred due to choices to engage in inappropriate risk-taking behaviour or to enter flooded waterways either by foot or in a vehicle.

Drivers often underestimated the force of floodwaters and how a vehicle could float if driven into water just 10cm above the bottom of the chassis.

Dr FitzGerald said, Despite public warnings to avoid the fording of flooded streams and waterways, almost half of the deaths were associated with driving motor vehicles across flooded waterways or driving on flooded roadways.

The study was published in the journal of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine, on Thursday.