Flash flooding survival guide
- Date: Nov 15, 2016
- Categories: news
With people in parts of the country still picking up the pieces following last week’s flash floods, the Automobile Association (AA) has issued some basic rules to follow in such situations.
The widespread heavy rains and thunderstorms over Gauteng and parts of the Eastern Cape last week caused extensive damage to infrastructure, homes and motor vehicles, killing over a dozen people.
Although flash floods are rare, when they occur, they can cause serious havoc, the AA said. The association urged all motorists caught in floods to follow some basic rules to negotiate the safest route out of these situations.
It said the most important factor in dealing with floods is to try to avoid being caught out on the road in the first place.
“On days when the weather is bad, motorists should listen to local radio traffic reports, monitor social media, and check online websites for advisories and cautions. If roads on your normal route are flooded, avoid them and seek alternatives, even if it means you will take a lot longer to get to your destination,” the AA advised.
But, the AA said, if you meet a flood anyway, some important rules need to be followed.
Firstly, if possible, turn around and drive away from the flooded area. If this isn’t possible, try to gauge the depth of the water ahead by watching other vehicles negotiate a specific stretch of water.
Do not attempt to go through this if it is deeper than 20 centimetres, as the water may damage mechanical and electronic components of your vehicle.
Some other tips to negotiate flooded roads include:
- Obey authorities and emergency personnel who tell you to avoid driving on a specific road. If a road has been closed, obey the closure, and drive on an alternative route.
- Do not try to cross a body of water, even if you think you can make it, as the water may be deeper than you think and the road may have eroded since you last used it.
- If there is a risk you will be caught in a flood, pull off the road and look for higher ground.
- If you do pull off, make sure you leave enough space for emergency vehicles to pass you.
- If you have no alternative but to drive through a body of water, drive as slow as possible in first gear with both hands on the steering wheel. This will give your car the necessary traction to move forward. Driving fast may result in aquaplaning.
- Ensure you are as visible as possible. Switch on your headlights.
- If your car is being surrounded by water, unfasten your seatbelt (and those of any children with you), unlock your doors, and open your windows. If water starts entering through the windows, get out of the vehicle and wade to the nearest point of safer higher ground. Remember, you are more important than your car.
- If your car is suddenly submerged and your windows aren’t already open, try to break a window and swim to the nearest point of safety.
- If you are caught in a flood, be patient and remain calm. The emergency services will get to you but there may be delays as they have to negotiate the same hazards.
- Be especially cautious at night or when visibility is low, as it may be harder to see floods ahead.
If you do make it through the water, check your car for any damage. Have an expert examine your vehicle afterwards for any damage that may be longer lasting.
If your car has been partially or completely submerged, and you have stopped in a body of water, don’t try and start it unless you have had a technician look at it, as this may result in damage to the engine. It is important to remain as calm as possible in these situations and assess the best way out.