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Never Drive Through Floodwaters

February 28, 2011
By

03/01/11 If you are driving while flood conditions are present it is important to be cautious.  Roads may be washed out, unexpected potholes can be covered in water, and your car can float away in only a foot of water.  If you must drive during a flood, you are advised to follow these suggestions:

Before you go:

  • Do not travel unless absolutely necessary.  If you must travel, carry a cell phone with a car charger.
  • Pay attention to your local media and heed all flood and flash flood warnings issued by the National Weather Service.
  • For county travel advisories, go to www.in.gov/dhs and click on the “Travel Advisory Map” at the center of the page.
  • Visit www.in.gov/indot/2788.htm for road conditions and reports.

For general information about severe weather safety, go to getprepared.in.gov.

On the road:

  • Be especially vigilant at night; many drownings and near deaths occur at night when it is difficult to see water crossings.
  • Do not drive around barricades at water crossings.  They are there for your protection. 
  • Do not cross or enter flowing water. If there is no other route, proceed to higher ground and wait for the waters to subside.
  • Be aware that road erosion may occur under running or standing water.  If you can’t see the road, you can’t be sure it’s there.
  • Even if the water appears shallow enough to cross, do not attempt to cross a flooded road.  Water can conceal dips, or worse, floodwaters can damage roadways, washing away the entire road surface and a significant amount of ground.
  • Remember, six (6) inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars causing loss of control and possible stalling.
  • A foot (12 inches) of water will float many vehicles, but even just a few inches of rushing water can carry away most vehicles INCLUDING sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and pick-ups.
  • Slow down.  Driving fast through high water creates less tire contact with the road surface and increases your chance of losing control of your vehicle.
  • Driving through water may affect your brakes.  Test your brakes at low speeds as soon as you exit the water.

Get out:

  • If your car stalls, abandon it immediately and climb to higher ground.
  • If you are forced to abandon your vehicle, respect the force of the water flow.  After you exit the vehicle, seek higher ground or get on top of your car.  Wait for help to arrive.
  • If you find yourself stranded in flood waters, remain calm and call 911 or yell for help.  A panicking person is more likely to make wrong decisions.  If you can do so safely move to higher ground.  Only swim if you absolutely have to and do not swim against the current.  If you are a rescuer, remember to throw a rope or flotation device to the person or row a boat out to them, but never go into the water yourself.  A panicked swimmer may drag you under with them.
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