With all the flooding happening along the Texas Coastline, the Midwest, in Richmond, VA and elsewhere, it’s a good time to look at driving in these conditions. Floods can happen most anywhere. Sometimes the water rises gradually but often as a flash flood, striking suddenly. According to FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), flash floods are the number one weather-related killer in the U.S. Mostly flood fatalities happen when people try to drive through the waters instead of avoiding them. (Source: FEMA, 2005)
What should you do if driving near flooding areas? Remember, water is a powerful force and can easily overtake vehicles caught in them. Here are some tips to stay safe in your car during a flood. Think safety, your loved ones are counting on it.
Driving in a Flood:
§ Pay attention to barricades--don't ignore them by driving past them.
§ Do not drive through standing water on roads or in parking lots--the average car can be swept off the road in 12 inches of moving water. Plus, roads covered by water can collapse.
§ If you come upon a flooded street, take an alternate route or go back to a dry area and wait.
§ Attempting to drive through water can also stall your engine, with the potential to cause unrepairable damage if you try to restart the engine.
§ Take extra precautions if you're forced to drive through water--If no alternate route really exists and you have no other reasonable alternative but to drive through standing water:
· Do your best to estimate the depth of the water (if other cars are driving through, take note of how deep the water is).
· Drive slowly but steadily through the water.
· Always avoid driving in water with downed electrical or power lines--electric current passes through water quickly and easily.
· Watch for items traveling downstream--they can trap or crush you if you're in their path.
· 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 permanent 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.
· 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 a slow speed with your right foot but only till functioning again (not a good practice otherwise).
Your safety should be the biggest concern. The best practice, of course, is to stay out of potential flood areas whenever possible.
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