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Driving In Flood Conditions

Thinking that if a flood comes along that you can just hop in your car and drive out of its way? Well, in a word, don’t. Driving in flood conditions is extremely ill advised. Most of the flood related deaths that occur every year are the direct result of people becoming trapped in their automobiles and drowning.

Flash floods are the worst, as they may occur with little or no warning. They are fast moving and the currents are extremely powerful, more than enough to sweep away a car or an SUV. They may be caused by excessive rainfall, the failing of a dam or levee, or even the sudden release of water from an ice or debris jam. If you live in an area that is prone to flooding, remain alert any time you have severe or rapidly changing weather conditions.

In many cases there is little or no warning of a flash flood, which means seeking higher ground as soon as you realize that one is imminent. You may only have a few minutes to respond so do not hesitate. If you are in a vehicle, abandon it and move to a safe place. Your vehicle isn’t it.

You have to remember that it only takes about six inches of rushing water to knock a grown man down, and only about two feet to float the largest car, which means it can be easily swept away. In 2010, a woman in Georgia was trapped in her car and managed to make a 911 call as her vehicle was swept away by flood waters. Her body was found, still in her car, a few hours later.

If you are driving and come across a road that has been flooded out, do not make any attempt to drive through it. There is no guarantee that the road is even there anymore, and again, you may find yourself in a less than desirable situation. Turn around and go the opposite way. Only take roads where you can actually see the pavement.

If you cannot find another route, or if your car stalls out, then abandon the vehicle and get to higher ground until the waters subside. You car is insured for a reason and can be replaced.

If you do find yourself in a flooding situation, then drive slowly and steadily to avoid creating a bow wave.  Allow oncoming traffic to pass first.  Keep the engine revving as much as possible to prevent water from getting into the exhaust, as this would stall the engine, leaving you stranded. Test brakes as soon as possible after driving through water.

If you do find yourself swept away in your vehicle, forget about opening the doors, as the weight of the water will prevent this. Instead, wait for the car to fill with water, as the pressure should equalize and make the doors easier to open. Yes, this is cutting it close, but at this point, there are few options left.

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