Flash flooding is among the most dangerous roadway hazards a driver can face. However, with the right knowledge, you can keep your car, your family and yourself safe even when one of these events comes to pass. With the unprecedented flooding that has struck several regions of the United States in the past few months, including those in Louisiana,Texas and West Virginia, now is a great time to familiarize yourself with the keys to safe driving during a flash flood.
Knowledge is power
According to the National Weather Service, a segment of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration dedicated to weather safety, 12 inches of rushing water can lift a small vehicle and that two feet will carry away virtually all automobiles. Notably, only six inches will be enough to knock down a pedestrian. NWS also points out that flooding is the most deadly hazard associated with thunderstorms in the United States.
The Allegheny County Health Department, a state-run agency in Pennsylvania committed to public safety, notes that half of the 100 average annual victims who die in flash floods succumb to injuries and threats associated with being trapped in their car. This is why identifying a flash flood on a road before driving into it is so imperative.
With this knowledge in mind, the next step is knowing how to avoid driving in a flash flood and what to do if you find yourself in one.
The National Weather Service's Central Region Headquarters, an agency that serves the upper Midwest, suggests the following steps to avoid driving in a flash flood altogether:
- Listen for flash flood watches, warnings and emergencies, with the first being the least dangerous and latter the most severe. Do not attempt to drive in any area that is under any of these watches, warnings or emergency categories.
- Watch for signs of heavier storms while driving long distances, with dark, low-hanging clouds being the key identifier of a system that could cause a flash flood.
If you find yourself in your car in the midst of a flash flood, follow these guidelines from The Weather Channel:
Abandoning the car might not seem like the best move, but it is by far the safest one you can make.
- Get out of the car immediately and head for higher ground.
- If necessary, break the windows and brace yourself to swim.
- Try to move with the currents, rather than across them.
Photo and article courtesy of Selective Insurance Group