Whether you didn’t realize that the water was so high or you thought you could make it through, flooding can easily happen in a car, which can be a scary situation. Learning what to do in such a situation is essential because you’re less likely to panic and can get yourself and any passengers to safety. Because there are many possibilities, such as staying inside the vehicle or getting out immediately to look for help, you may not know which is best. While most solutions aren’t necessarily wrong, a few of them are and could cause more issues later.
Of course, the best thing to do when water covers the road is to stop the vehicle, back up safely, turn around, and find another route. However, it can be tricky to see water on the road, especially at night or at dusk. If you’re already in the water and can safely do so, back up and find another route.
FEMA has a natural hazard guideline available that claims just six inches of water can alter your steering capacity, which means it’s harder to control the car. Along with such, just one foot of water can turn your car into a floating device and allow it to be carried away by the current, though this is a gradual process. However, two feet of water can sweep away most vehicles, including pickup trucks and SUVs.
Therefore, if your vehicle is surrounded by water, you should be concerned but shouldn’t panic. Don’t wait for the flood to go away because it could reach higher levels and cause more severe problems.
While you’ve probably seen flooding with people jumping up and down on the roof of their car, that’s not the best way to be visible. Instead, you should remain calm, and turn on the headlights and hazard lights on your vehicle. If you have a large, strong flashlight, you can also use that to attract attention for any passing emergency personnel.
Don’t Stay Secured Inside
While some people believe they should strap in or keep their seatbelt on, it’s not going to do much good while you’re in a flood. In fact, it can be severely problematic because if you’re floating and emergency personnel try to get you out, your constraint is going to prevent that. Therefore, unbuckle the seatbelt and make sure the doors are unlocked if you notice water that surrounds your car.
While most people worry about hypothermia (the body temperature dropping too much too fast), you may have to swim to safety. Remove any jackets and all layers, stripping down to your top and bottom clothes. You could get frostbite or hypothermia, but you can quickly get treatment for such things whereas your likelihood of dying increases if you keep your layers on.
Open the Window
If you’re stranded in an area without safety personnel nearby, you cannot start panicking. The best thing to do is slowly lower a window and climb out immediately. Try to find higher ground or stand on top of the vehicle. Even electric windows usually work when the circuitry is wet, but not for long, so be careful and slow about it.
However, if your electric window doesn’t go down, do not panic. You can try breaking a window or opening the car door, though you are going to need a lot of muscle to push the door open against the water.