A powerful storm has dumped 10 inches of rain on parts of the Dallas-Fort Worth area over the past few days, causing widespread flooding. Flash floods are the number one weather-related killer in the United States — most flood fatalities happen because people try to drive through deadly waters rather than avoid them.
The next highest percentage of flood-related deaths is due to walking into or near flood waters. People underestimate the force and power of water. Many of the deaths occur in automobiles as they are swept downstream. Of these drownings, many are preventable, but too many people continue to drive around the barriers that warn you the road is flooded. A mere 6 inches of fast-moving flood water can knock over an adult. 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. It is NEVER safe to drive or walk into flood waters.
With more rain on the way, follow these tips to stay safe in your car during a flood.
How to Drive 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 automobile can be swept off the road in 12 inches of moving water, and roads covered by water are prone to collapse. Attempting to drive through water also may stall your engine, with the potential to cause irreparable damage if you try to restart the engine. If you come upon a flooded street, take an alternate route.
Take extra precautions if you’re forced to drive through water.
If no alternate route 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 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.