Flash floods and floods become an all too real possibility during the wet Spring months. These dangerous weather occurrences can come suddenly and often without warning. If you’re caught in a flood or flash flood while driving, here are some survival tips to follow.
Flash floods, or just floods in general, oftenresult in a handful of people dying inside their car. However, there are a few ways to make sure this doesn’t happen.
Listen to weather reports
Flood watch and Flash flood watch
Often the best way to avoid a flood or flash flood is by staying up to date on the weather. That being said, flash floods, by definition, are unpredictable. Instead, listen to see if there is a flood watch or flash flood watch; these watches mean that the possibility exist for a flood or flash food, respectively. If your area is under a watch, consider if you really need to drive today or if it can wait until the watch passes.
Flood warning and flash flood warnings
A warning means that a flood or flash flood is happening. If this happens to you while driving, move to higher ground on foot immediately. If your area is under a warning, do not drive until the warning has passed.
Driving in a flood
If you find yourself in your car during a flood or flash flood, avoid large puddles of ground on the water. Just six inches of water can stall most cars, even an SUV or a truck, or remove your ability to control the car. Two feet of water is enough to sweep your car off the road.
Listen to the radio to see where the flooding is worst, and, if necessary, leave your car and seek higher ground on foot. Be wary of fallen power lines, which will make the flood water deadly.
If you’ve exited your vehicle, don’t stand in the moving water, if possible. Just six inches of moving water can knock a person over.
Trapped inside a sinking car
If you happen to find yourself inside of a sinking vehicle, here are the steps you need to take if water is rapidly gathering around your vehicle.
- Don’t panic. Panic, and your ability to control it, can change whether you live or die in this situation. Take a deep breath and don’t start fumbling for your door. The moment water is at your door, you won’t be able to open it.
- Do not call 911 with your cell phone. Use this time to escape your vehicle.
- Unbuckle your seatbelt. Some will argue that you should wait for this step, but that advice is generally for cars plunging into a river, not getting swept up in a flood. If you’re caught in a flash flood, unbuckle. If you have a child in the car, instruct him or her to do likewise.
- Lower your car window. The time estimate for this fluctuates, but imagine that you have only 30 precious seconds to accomplish this. Most automatic windows will open unless the car is submerged. This is your best bet, so open your window if you can.
- Swim out of your window. As stated before, the car door will become impossible for the average person to open.This makes your best exit point your window.
- Do NOT cling to your car as an anchor. Once free from your car, don’t use it as a floaty. Instead, swim with the flow of the water until you find higher ground you can climb onto and wait for help.
If you can’t open or can’t swim through your window
If you can’t get out through your car window, you have two options.
If you break open your car window, the glass will come in towards you, so be careful.
In order to break the window, use any sharp object you have (umbrella, heel, rock, hammer, screwdriver, etc.) and smash it into your window’s center.
If you don’t have a sharp object, you’ll have to try kicking it open. To do this, kick near the front of the window or by its hinges. Please note that this is extremely difficult to do.
Do not try to break your windshield. Without superhuman strength and more time, it won’t happen.
Wait for your car to sink
This is an extremely risky method and should be used as a last resort.
If you cannot escape through the window, then unlock your car doors, if you haven’t already done so, and breath slowly. You will have to wait until the pressure outside your car equalizes with the pressure inside of your car. Some say this happens once the water is level with your neck, others claim it happens once the car is submerged completely. As the water gets higher, take slow and calm breaths, as you will need to hold it for an extended length of time.
Take a deep breath.
Once the pressure is equalized, open your car door and swim out, pushing against your car to give you an extra boost to the surface.
If you’re with a passenger, don’t kick until he or she is clear.