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Flood Safety Driving Tips

posted Apr 7, 2011, 6:22 PM by David Sitter   [ updated Apr 7, 2011, 6:57 PM ]
April 4, 2011

The occurrence of heavy rain makes flooding a real threat. Floods come about as streams and rivers overflow their banks. This can occur from deep snow run off or during heavy rainfall.  Flash floods can happen rapidly and unexpectedly.  Flash flooding can occur after a few minutes of heavy rain fall or after a lengthy period of significant precipitation. People who live in flood prone areas should always be conscious of the threat of flash floods when experiencing significant rainfall. Here are a few flood safety tips for drivers:

• During severe rain storms, don't travel unless absolutely necessary. If you have to travel carry a cell phone with a car charger.

•Purchase a weather scanner and heed all flood and flash flood warnings issued by the National Weather Service.

•Do not drive around barricades at water crossings.

•Be especially vigilant at night. Many drowning deaths occur at night when it is difficult to see water crossings.

•Do not cross or enter flowing water. Driving fast through high water on the road is not a solution. Faster speeds create less tire contact with the road surface, which can cause hydroplaning and increase your chance of losing control and crashing.

•Driving through standing water may affect your brakes. Test your brakes at low speeds as soon as you exit the water.

•Be aware that road erosion may occur when there is swiftly running water.  Newly-formed, hidden gullies or deep potholes may have formed in the roadway.  If you need to pull off the roadway, pull into a driveway, not the shoulder of the road.  Road shoulders could be weak and may collapse.

•Flood water on low sections of roadways may be much deeper than you think. Your vehicle may become stranded in swiftly flowing water.  Leave a stalled car and seek higher ground immediately. In this situation, staying with the vehicle is not the safer choice, even if leaving means getting soaked.  Respect the force of the water flow, you may be swept off your feet.  Focus your attention on getting to higher ground.

• Remember that six inches of water will reach the bottoms of most car doors. One foot of water will float many vehicles, and two feet of moving water can carry away most vehicles.  More than 50 percent of people killed in a flash flood are in cars. Once the vehicle starts to float, it is at the mercy of the flood waters and is at a high risk of being pushed along sideways. At that point, the car may roll over and trap the occupants inside.

If you find yourself stranded in flood waters remain calm and call 911. If you can do so safely move to higher ground.  Keep children away from sewer manholes, grates, flooded ditches and culverts. Injury may occur due to fast-moving water, debris in water or contamination.

Flood safety at home:

- Do not enter a flooded room (or basement) if there is any chance that an electrical device or outlet come in contact with the water. Furnace, dryer and freezer motors are usually situated very close to the floor. If it appears the water has reached any power source in the flooded area, contact the power company and have the electricity disconnected. Rubber boots and gloves offer very limited protection from electrical shock. If the furnace and or water heater have been submerged, shut off the fuel supply (Natural gas, propane, fuel oil) to the appliance. The appliance will require servicing before it can be used again.

- Following sewage back up into basements, disinfect the area with a chlorine solution of 1⁄4 cup household bleach in one gallon of water. Discard anything that cannot be cleaned and/or disinfected.  Wear rubber gloves when handling contaminated materials.  Wear waterproof covering on feet when working in basement areas.