According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, floods can occur anywhere, with floodwaters rising gradually or flash floods striking suddenly. Flash floods are the number one storm-related killer in the United States. The Florida Division of Emergency Management reports that half of flood fatalities happen because people try to drive through hazardous flood waters rather than avoid them.
How to drive through a flood
Water’s powerful force can easily overtake vehicles caught in a flood. Follow these three tips when driving through deep water or a flash flood.
1. Pay attention to barricades
Don’t ignore them by driving past them.
2. Avoid driving through standing water
The average automobile can be swept off the road in 12 inches of moving water, and roads covered by water are prone to collapse. Attempting to drive through deep water also may stall your engine, with the potential to cause irreparable damage if you try to restart the engine. If you come upon a flooded street, take an alternate route.
3. Take extra precautions when driving through deep water
Follow these guidelines only if no alternate route exists and you have no other reasonable alternative but to drive through deep water or flooded streets.
- Do your best to estimate the depth of the water.
- Drive slowly and steadily through the water.
- Avoid driving in water that downed electrical or power lines have fallen in.
- Watch for items traveling downstream — they can trap or crush you if you’re in their path.
- Test your brakes on a clear patch of road at low speed if you have driven through water up to the wheel rims or higher.
- Dry your brakes by pressing gently on the brake pedal with your left foot while maintaining speed.
- Stay off the telephone unless you must report severe injuries.
- If your vehicle stalls in the deep water, you may need to restart the engine to make it to safety.
- If you become trapped in rising water, immediately abandon your car for higher ground.
- If you can’t get out of your car safely, call 911 or get the attention of someone for help.
Your auto insurance policy’s comprehensive coverage may pay to repair or replace your vehicle if your car is damaged from flooding. Learn more about how comprehensive car insurance coverage can cover various types of water damage to your car, including flooding, heavy rains, and hailstorms. Learn more about common problems with flood damaged cars.