Flash Flood Safety in Automobiles

In the United States, flash floods kill more people than any other storm-related hazard. On average, flash floods kill 146 people each year. In fact, flash flood deaths exceeds the second ranked killer, lightning, by a 2 to 1 margin. Half of flash flood deaths occur in automobiles.

People often underestimate the sheer power of flowing water on a flooded roadway and attempt to cross in their vehicles. Many times they do not make it and get swept away to their deaths by the force of water current.

How can a foot of water cost you your life? Water weighs over 60 pounds per cubic foot. Typical flowing flood waters apply 500 pounds of lateral force per foot of water depth. Even a foot of fast flowing flood waters can overpower a moving vehicle. A vehicle displaces 1500 pounds of water for every foot of water. Flood waters only 2 feet deep will cause a vehicle under 3000 pounds to float.

When you approach a flooded roadway, it is often very hard to tell how deep the water is. Dips in the roadway are impossible to see when the road is flooded. Do not take a chance with you or your love ones life and not cross the road. Turn around and take a different route!

Remember, nearly half of all flash flood deaths are automobile- related!

Flash flooding can occur suddenly at any time of day, during any month of the year. The following are some helpful flood safety tips that we should all remember. Be prepared, be aware, and be ready to take action.

Here are a few safety tips to follow when flash flooding threatens your area:

  • Get out of areas prone to flooding. Avoid already flooded areas.
  • Do not attempt to cross flowing streams.
  • If driving, be aware that the road bed may not be intact under flood waters. Turn and go another way. Never drive through flooded roadways.
  • If your vehicle stalls, leave it immediately and seek higher ground. Rapidly rising waters may engulf the vehicle and its occupants and sweep them away!
  • Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.
  • Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams and bayous, particularly during threatening conditions.