Tips on Dealing with Flood
It’s that time of the year again when the weather is fickle, one moment it’s blazing hot and the next, a thunderstorm hits! With thunderstorms usually comes torrential rains, rains that our drainage systems are still ill-equipped to deal with. What happens next ranks up there on the list of a motorist’s worst nightmares. Flood! Flash floods can happen at any time and cause horrible jams. So, what should you do if you come to a flooded road? Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Before the flood:
– Consider reviewing your car insurance policy for flood coverage especially if you normally go to flood-prone areas. After all, better safe than sorry.
– Plan! Use Google Maps, Waze, etc where you’ll get warnings way in advance from other kind-hearted motorists and you’ll be able to see where the worst floods are. Keep updated, especially when it threatens rain to avoid getting caught in any dangerous situations.
– Parking! If your parking lot tends to flood, it might be a great idea to find alternative parking before the storm hits.
Driving in a flood:
1. DON’T (IF YOU CAN). The general rule of thumb is that (if at all possible) you should avoid the risk of driving through a flood in the first place. CNN states that driving through a flood is one of the most dangerous things a motorist can do, and for good reason. Find an alternative route if possible. However, if you absolutely have to, let’s see how!
2. GAUGING DEPTH AND SAFETY. Only drive through a flood if you’re absolutely sure of the depth of the water. 15 cm of still water reaches the bottom of most passenger cars, possibly entering the air intake or exhaust pipe and causing your engine to stall. 30 cm of water can result in the car floating or losing traction and the same depth of fast-flowing water can wash a car into deeper water. Even bigger vehicles like trucks and SUVs are vulnerable to being washed away in just 60 cm of water.
A good way to gauge the depth of the water is by checking the markings on the curbs (the side) of the road, if you can see them, it is generally shallow enough to drive across. Other ways are to observe other cars going through. Are their exhaust pipes submerged? Turn around. Also, be careful as floodwaters can hide portions of road that might have been washed away. If there are downed electric poles, don’t even think about it as water and junk in the water can carry a charge. Anything above the middle of your wheels is generally a no.
3. DRIVING ACROSS STANDING WATER. Note: NEVER DRIVE THROUGH HEAVILY FLOWING WATER. So, you absolutely have to go through and you think that the water isn’t too deep.
Once you are relatively sure that the water is safe to drive through, approach the water slowly especially when entering it (about 3km/h). This is because even very shallow water (we’re talking puddles here) can cause your car to aquaplane, leading to loss of control. Aim for the highest points of the road (usually the middle or the right side) where the flood water should be the shallowest. Once your front wheels are slightly over the water’s edge, accelerate slowly to about 6km/h. This acceleration will cause a slight wave in front of the car and create a small wave that allows for more safety. Try to keep a constant speed so that this wave is not interrupted.
Turn off your air-conditioning to keep the fan from damage. Keep your car in a low gear (L or 1st gear), keep your engine revving, foot on the accelerator, and shifting your gear into neutral if necessary to avoid water being sucked into the exhaust pipe. Higher speeds can cause a loss of control as well as cause splashes that may enter your engine’s air intake. Besides that, you might soak pedestrians or other helpers nearby and that’s quite inconsiderate.
After crossing a flood, don’t speed up yet. Keep a slow speed while tapping your brakes to dry them and to test their effectiveness. Do not follow closely behind another vehicle as you might be in danger if that vehicle stalls. Be considerate of other drivers also, don’t drive against an incoming car through the flooded area and go one at a time. Also, be on the lookout for debris or other items that may float into your path.
Oops, you’re stuck!
If by some terrible combination of circumstances, you find your car stalled in the middle of the flood, let’s see what we can do:
1. DON’T PANIC. First but very important step.
2. WARNING OTHERS. Turn on your headlights and hazard lights.
3. DEEP WATER. If your car has stalled in the middle of the flood, you can try restarting it quickly but keep in mind that doing so could cause irreparable damage to your engine.
4. RISING WATER. If your car has stalled and the water is rising, abandon your car and move to higher ground, if you can safely make it. If you’re in the middle of fast-flowing water, getting on top of your car might be a better option as you can get washed away a lot easier than your car.
a. Lower the window to prepare a backup exit. Unless your car is completely submerged, the windows should work.
b. If the windows are not working, you’ll need to use a door. In that case, you probably won’t be able to open it until the pressure inside and outside are equalized. That means calmly letting water into the car until it’s at about neck level – This may be scary but it’s the only way to get the doors open.
c. Do not break the window as the difference in pressure could cause the windows to explode inwards.
5. CALL FOR HELP.
One final note. The best course of advice is still – DON’T DRIVE THROUGH FLOODS IF YOU CAN. Please be safe on the roads!