Flooding Safety

Posted on Mar 20, 2015


If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, stop, turn around, and go another way. Never try to walk, swim, or drive through swift water. Most flood fatalities are caused by people attempting to drive through water, or people playing in high water. If water is moving swiftly, even water six inches deep can sweep you off your feet. It takes just twelve inches of rushing water to carry away a small car, while two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles. It is NEVER safe to drive or walk into flood waters.

Almost half of all flash flood deaths happen in vehicles.

Remember the phrase “Turn Around, Don’t Drown” if you are driving during a flood event and follow these tips:

– Avoid already flooded areas, and areas subject to sudden flooding. Do not attempt to cross flowing streams. Most flood fatalities are caused by people attempting to drive through water, or people playing in high water. The depth of water is not always obvious. The roadbed may be washed out under the water, and you could be stranded or trapped. Rapidly rising water may stall the engine, engulf the vehicle and its occupants, and sweep them away. Look out for flooding at highway dips, bridges, and low areas.

– If you are driving and come upon rapidly rising waters, turn around and find another route. Move to higher ground away from rivers, streams, creeks, and storm drains. If your route is blocked by flood waters or barricades, find another route. Barricades are put up by local officials to protect people from unsafe roads. Driving around them can be a serious risk.

– If your vehicle becomes surrounded by water or the engine stalls, and if you can safely get out, abandon your vehicle immediately and climb to higher ground. Many deaths have resulted from attempts to move stalled vehicles. When a vehicle stalls in the water, the water’s momentum is transferred to the car. The lateral force of a foot of water moving at 10 miles per hour is about 500 pounds on the average automobile. The greatest effect is buoyancy – for every foot that water rises up the side of a car, it displaces 1,500 pounds of the car’s weight. So, two feet of water moving at 10 miles per hour will float virtually any car. Many persons have been swept away by flood waters upon leaving their vehicles, which are later found without much damage. Use caution when abandoning your vehicle, and look for an opportunity to move away quickly and safely to higher ground.