Colorado Driving Tips – flash flood awareness and avoidance
Editor’s note: Colorado weather can be crazy, in this article Heather Pridemore, our Marketing Manager, discusses flash flood driving tips and provides links to important flood preparedness resources.
All the rain and flash flooding we’ve been having lately reminds me of an experience I had in my Audi a couple summers ago. My husband and I were in my 2013 Audi A4 driving East on Highway 6. It started to rain and eventually got so bad that we could barely see. Our first instinct was to pull over and wait it out but visibility was very bad and many people were driving through. Since we were worried about how safe we’d be parked on the side of the road we decided to exit off the highway and find a safer place to park. Visibility improved as the rain slowed down but as we started South down Union Street we quickly realized that the water across the road was more than just a puddle. By this point the rain had stopped. We of course felt panicked and unsure of what to do. The water was at least 6 – 12 inches deep (of course we were in the water by the time we realized). We couldn’t stop and we couldn’t back up because there were other vehicles in the same situation. We continued on through the water, attempting to keep our speed slow and steady. If we accelerated too much the water would be forced up onto the hood and we didn’t want to flood the engine. Luckily we didn’t have to travel too far under those conditions and before we knew it we were out of the water and back on our safe journey home.
Of course, things could have gone much worse. Take a look at the quick Public Service Announcement from the National Weather Service…
So, what should you do when you are traveling in your vehicle and get caught in a flash flood?
First of all, keep calm. Ensure your headlights and hazard lights are on so that you are visible and easy to find. Be aware that water that is six inches deep or more could cause your vehicle to stall or you could lose control. Twelve inches of water is enough to float many vehicles, and if it’s rushing it could carry you and your vehicle away.
Do not stay in a flooded car. If your vehicle is surrounded it is best to leave it behind and move to higher ground. If you are unable to open your doors to escape then you will need to roll down your windows and climb out. Do not stand on top of your vehicle, if it gets carried away by flood waters you could be seriously hurt. If your vehicle is submerged you will not be able to roll your windows down. You will need to wait until the water begins to enter the vehicle and the pressure is equalized between the inside and the outside of the car. Do not try to break the glass, if the pressure is unequal the glass will explode inward towards you potentially causing additional harm. This means you may have water up to your neck before you can get the doors open. You may need to hold your breath and swim to safety. Do not try and save any of your belongings. Once the doors are open, swim to safety and call 911. Do not return to your car, flood waters are unpredictable and could go down and then rise back up without warning.
If you find yourself in a similar situation to the one I was in, and you are forced to drive through standing water, then please take these extra precautions:
- Take note of the other vehicles in the water, this will allow you the ability to estimate its depth.
- Drive slow and steady.
- If you see that electrical or power lines have fallen in the water avoid it at all costs, electric current passes through water very easily.
- If there is a downstream current watch items that could be traveling in your path, you could find yourself trapped or worse – crushed.
- If your vehicle stalls in deep water, you may need to restart the engine to make it to safety but restarting the vehicle may cause irreparable damage to the engine. If you can’t get the vehicle to restart abandon the vehicle and get to safety.
- Once you are through the standing water test your brakes on a clear patch of road at a low speed. If they are wet you can dry them by gently pressing on the brake pedal while maintaining a slow speed.
Of course you should do your best to avoid flood waters and if there are flash flood warnings you should stay some place safe and avoid travel until the warning has lifted.
Important Flash Flood Resources:
Did you find this article helpful? Did we miss anything? If you have questions, or ideas for future articles, hit us up in the comments. We are here to help!
This article was written by Heather Pridemore, Marketing Manager at Prestige Imports. Learn more about Heather on her LinkedIn Profile.
Article photo courtesy of JohnNovak/Flickr