Dave Deslauriers /

Flash Flood Safety Tips

According to the National Weather Service, “It takes just 12 inches of rushing water to carry away a small car, while 2 feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles.” With late spring into summer being the prime time for flash flooding in the United States, this article will take a look at some expert tips to help you stay safe during one of Mother Nature’s most dangerous situations.

Check the Forecast

Before heading out for the day, it’s important to check the local weather forecast for the possibility of heavy rain, thunderstorms, and flash flood warnings. Being aware of possible dangers ahead is the first step in protecting yourself.

Turn Around, Don’t Drown

However, sometimes even despite the forecast, we have to go out on the road. In that situation, Driver’s Education company Aceable offers the most practical advice for dealing with flash flooding, “The best thing you can do to protect yourself and your car when there’s a flood is to follow this advice: Turn Around, Don’t Drown (TADD). If you come upon a roadway that appears to be flooded, DON’T try to drive through it. If you come across barricades blocking off a flooded section of the road, DON’T try to drive around them. Turn around and find a detour. It’s closed for a reason. Don’t destroy your car or risk your life due to impatience.”

Estimate the Depth

If you find yourself facing a flooded roadway, do your best to gauge how deep the water is. Esurance explains “As little as 6 inches of water can damage your car and lead to stalling. A foot of water may even cause your vehicle to float. If you think the water is more than 6 inches deep, don’t try to drive through it. Best to turn around and find another route.”

If Absolutely No Other Alternative Exists

If you have absolutely no other options, and are forced to drive through a flooded road, Progressive offers the following advice:

  • Drive slowly and steadily through the water.
  • Avoid driving in water that downed electrical or power lines have fallen in — electric current passes through water easily.
  • Watch for items traveling downstream — they can trap or crush you if you’re in their path.
  • If you have driven through water up to the wheel rims or higher, test your brakes on a clear patch of road at low speed. If they are wet and not stopping the vehicle as they should, dry them by pressing gently on the brake pedal with your left foot while maintaining speed with your right foot.
  • Stay off the telephone unless you must report severe injuries.
  • If your vehicle stalls in the deep water, you may need to restart the engine to make it to safety. Keep in mind that restarting may cause irreparable damage to the engine.
  • If you can’t restart your vehicle and you become trapped in rising water, immediately abandon it for higher ground. Try to open the door or roll down the window to get out of the vehicle. If you are unable to get out safely, call 911 or get the attention of a passerby or someone standing on higher ground so that they may call for help.

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