How to Drive Safely During a Flood after a Hurricane

You should completely avoid driving during a flood if possible, but if you’re already out on the roads when a flood strikes, take caution. Try to remain calm and think through your next moves to avoid unnecessary harm.  These tips can help you remain safe until you reach your destination and avoid any damage to your vehicle. While these might be no-brainers, following these tips is imperative to your safety.

Avoid Standing Water

Driving through even the lowest slightest amount of standing water can potentially damage your car. Most cars have electrical systems underneath the seats, and since the lower portion of the car is one of the first areas to contact water, this means your electrical system is subject to failure. If your electrical system fails, this can lead to other systems in your vehicle failing. Driving through standing water also puts your engine at risk, and can lead to your brakes being tough to utilize. The last thing you need when driving through a flood is brake trouble, so try to drive around standing water if possible. If you do experience trouble, contact roadside assistance before continuing with your drive.

Do Not Drive Through Moving Water

While driving through standing water can lead to vehicle damage, driving through moving water puts you at great risk of being injured. Moving water can wash your vehicle off the road, or result in hydroplaning and losing control of the vehicle. Avoid driving through moving water if possible. If you somehow end up in moving water, proceed very slowly, and be careful not to overcorrect your steering wheel.

Estimate the Depth of the Water

Try to gauge the depth of the water before driving into it. If the water is at least 4 inches deep, it can already pose a major threat. It only takes a few inches of water to move your car.  Even a big car with 4WD can be affected by driving through deep water, so do not take the chance. If you are struggling to determine the depth of the water, play it safe and do not drive through it. If it isn’t noticeably shallow, it is too deep to attempt driving through.

Avoid Water Where Electrical Lines Have Fallen

This might seem like a given as well, but driving through water where electricity lines have fallen into can be extremely dangerous. Electricity flows through water, and although the power lines may be knocked down, there will still be an electric charge. Do not put yourself at risk of being electrocuted, or your car catching on fire.

Drive Slowly

Drive as slowly as you feel you need. Traffic can wait – what’s most important is your safety. Even if you have passed all visible water, do not start to speed up. Your vehicle will still be slick and could lead to you sliding off the road, or running into unforeseen obstacles. You may also come across more deep water, so it is best to maintain a slow speed throughout the duration of your drive.

Evaluate Your Engine

If your vehicle begins to stall, first attempt to restart your engine. It is possible that water has seeped into it, so proceed cautiously. If you are not able to restart your engine, do not spend time continuing to start it. You will be best off to abandon your vehicle until it is safe to return. Exit your vehicle, and get to higher ground immediately so you do not get caught up in the flood. If you are not able to exit your vehicle and it will not start, call 911 to come assist you. Do not try to force your way out of the car, just remain inside until help gets there.

Avoid Known Flooded Routes

If your normal route is flooded, try to drive an alternative way. Avoid roads with deep valleys in them or ditches on the side that could be holding large puddles of water. Refrain from continuing to drive if you notice the road is flooded ahead of you, or if you see other drivers struggling.

Remain Alert

You may think you are the world’s best driver, but even still, a flood can be dangerous. Limit all distractions while driving so you can remain alert and aware of your surroundings. Be sure to have your headlights and windshield wipers running to create a good sense of visibility. Do not use your cell phone unless you need to make an emergency call.

Test Your Brakes

After you have reached your destination safely and are in a dry spot, test out your brakes to ensure they are still in good condition and are safe to drive with. It is important to do this before your next drive.

What to Do After the Flood

If you think your car may have been damaged from the flood, it is best to get it looked at. Before turning your car back on, inform your car insurance provider of the status of your car. They can assist you in how to proceed, and determine if someone can come to you to inspect the vehicle. If you are unsure if your car was damaged, you can check it yourself before getting a professional. It is still a wise decision to have it looked at to entirely rule out damage, or safely proceed with repairing the vehicle. Need a mechanic? Find out more information about mechanics in your area who can help restore your car to its best form.

Your safety is critical – so take extreme caution while driving during a flood, and have your vehicle properly inspected. If you live in a coastal city, make sure your car is also properly insured.

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