Flash floods present one of the most dangerous of driving conditions. In fact, about 75 people die each year in the U.S. in flash floods, and two-thirds of them die inside vehicles. They can occur near bodies of water like lakes and rivers, of course, but even in unexpected dry climates, like the Arizona desert where storm drains or sewage systems can overflow. In these instances, the water rises incredibly fast and can flow swiftly on roads.
However, staying safe in a flash flood is simple if you keep your eyes on the road and drive carefully. Here are four things to keep in mind when driving during a flash flood warning.
Avoid Flood Waters
Avoid floodwaters by staying informed checking local radio stations, and download The Weather Channel app on your iPhone or Android for live alerts. Additionally, it can be easy to misjudge the depth of rainwater, particularly at night. And it’s not unusual for a dry road to become filled with high water in mere miles. So steer clear of flood waters if you can.
Understand Car Limitations
Most cars weren’t built to drive in flood waters. And while every car is different, there are a few limitations to keep in mind if you’re driving in rapidly-rising water. Typically, a car will lose control in 6 inches of water. It’ll float in a foot of water. And in two feet of water, a car can be swept away – including trucks and SUVs. Be cognizant of water levels to stay safe.
Leave Your Vehicle
If you’re trapped in your car in high water, don’t panic, but you do need to exit. Find an air pocket by the window or the roof, unbuckle your seatbelt, roll down the window – use a tool like a Swiss army knife if it won’t budge – and climb or swim out of your vehicle as quickly as possible.
Find Higher Ground
Once you’ve exited your vehicle it’s imperative to find dry land to avoid danger. You can be knocked over by 6 inches of water. And water flowing at 6 mph is roughly the same exerted force per unit as a tornado. Finally, rushing rain water can be contaminated with hazardous materials like charged electricity, sewage, or gasoline. Try to find higher ground as soon as possible.
Follow these four simple steps when driving in rainy conditions to stay safe. You never know when water will rise unexpectedly. Learn more about driving safely in rainy weather here, or schedule an appointment at Sears Auto Center today!