February 2017 Flood Article

“But it looked like solid ground!” Have you heard someone say this about driving through a puddle that “didn’t look that deep” only to find out the road had given way underneath?
This time of year brings the extra chance of heavy rain and flooding.  While the roads may look like they are safe to travel, be sure to take extra caution when driving during or after a flood.
Some things to consider and take into account while driving during inclement weather:

 

  • If you come upon a flooded street, take an alternate route if possible.
  • Pay attention to barricades, don’t ignore them and drive past.
  • If at all possible, avoid driving through standing water on roads or in parking lots. You never know what is underneath.Even if it looks like a shallow puddle, the road could have given way to a large pothole or worse.
  • Just six inches of water can reach the bottom of most passenger cars.This depth can cause loss of control or possible stalling as water is sucked into the exhaust or the air intake of your engine. If your vehicle stalls because of the intake of water, there is the potential to cause irreparable damage to the engine if you try and restart.
  • The average vehicle can be swept off of the road in 12-24 inches of moving water and roads covered by water are prone to collapse. With that much water over the roadway, you can’t tell whether the ground is solid or not.
  • Do not drive through water with downed electrical or power lines in it. Electrical current passes through water easily.
     

If you find that it is impossible to get around the water covered roadway and you have absolutely no alternative, keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Drive slowly and steadily through water.
  • If you have driven through water that reached up to your wheel rims or higher, test your brakes on a clear path of road at a 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.
  • If your vehicle stalls and you are 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.

Overall, never attempt to drive through water that you couldn’t walk through.  Be aware that the water may look shallow over the roadway but may be hiding dips in the road, washed away road surfaces, or washed away ground.