What you should do if you get stuck driving in floodwaters
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Each year, there are more deaths due to flooding than from any other thunderstorm-related hazard, according to the US National Weather Service (NWS).
Cover Photo (Above): Car stuck the flooded Union Drive in the Brisbane suburb of Highgate Hill. Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons
Over half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into dangerous floodwaters, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported.
“People underestimate the force and power of water. Many of the deaths occur in automobiles as they are swept downstream,” the NWS states.
Many of these drownings are preventable, but many people continue to drive around barriers that warn the road is flooded.
“It is never safe to drive or walk into floodwaters,” the NWS website reads.
Flash flooding often occurs so quickly that people are caught off guard. The situation may quickly become dangerous, especially if a person encounters high, fast-moving water while traveling.
Flooding, including flash flooding, can happen anywhere in the United States and during every season.
It is particularly important to be prepared for flooding if you live in a low-lying area near a body of water, according to the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Ready Campaign.
It is important to know your flood risk and create an emergency flood plan in order to be prepared for a flooding event.
The Ready Campaign provides basic safety tips for floods on their website:
- Turn Around, Don’t Drown! ®
- Avoid walking or driving through floodwaters.
- Do not drive over bridges that are over fast-moving floodwaters. Floodwaters can scour foundation material from around the footings and make the bridge unstable.
- Just 6 inches of moving water can knock you down, and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away.
- If there is a chance of flash flooding, move immediately to higher ground.
- If floodwaters rise around your car but the water is not moving, abandon the car and move to higher ground. Do not leave the car and enter moving water.
- Avoid camping or parking along streams, rivers and creeks during heavy rainfall. These areas can flood quickly and with little warning.
While you should always avoid driving into areas with flood risk, there are a number of steps that you can take if you find yourself trapped in your car in fast-rising water.
Car.com provides a list of do’s and don´ts in case you ever get stuck in a difficult situation: