Driving in floods

Driving in Floods

Driving in floods can be really dangerous but there are things you can do to help stay safe. Flooding can happen any time, rain fall doesn’t always need to be extreme and is not helped by blocked drains, burst water mains, tides and burst river banks.

Sea or river-related flooding is often announced by the Environment Agency but surface water flooding from heavy rain or drains that can’t cope is harder to predict and can be localised and not well broadcast. Social media can be really useful for checking if roads are passable in your area. 

This is the link to the Government website which highlights flood risks https://flood-warning-information.service.gov.uk/warnings 

A well maintained car is always of course important, have you booked your free winter check yet ?

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If you hear there’s flooding on the way, move your car to higher ground to stop it getting damaged. Water is of course no good with electrics and can even cause airbags to go off suddenly but this can happen some time later. If you’ve had a car submerged be careful and get it checked. One egg cup of water can damage an engine so here is some tips.

Heavy rain

  • Turn headlights to on, not just daylight running lights, Highway Code says you must use them when visibility is seriously reduced defined as less than 100m.

  • Use fog lights if suitable, but switch them off when visibility improves.

  • If you break down don’t prop the bonnet up while you wait. Rain-soaked electrics can make it harder to start when help arrives. Leave the bonnet down.

  • Leave twice as much space between you and the next vehicle – it takes longer to stop in the wet.

  • If your steering feels light due to aquaplaning ease off the accelerator don’t immediately brake.

 Floods and standing water

  • Avoid standing water where possible especially when you don’t know how deep it is

  • Don’t drive into flood water that is moving including swollen rivers

  • Fast moving water can be extremely dangerous and can sweep even a heavy car away

  • For most cars 10cm is the safe wading depth, the safe limit on how deep you can drive through.

  • Drive slowly and steady, trying not to make a wave as you drive through

  • Test your brakes as soon as you can after exiting water, they may not work as well as they did before they got wet.

  • For water you must drive through try to get out and check how deep it is with a stick or similar – always good to carry wellies or waders for this bit.

  • If you do get stuck in flood water, it’s usually best to wait in the car and call for help rather than try to get out. A charged mobile phone is one of the most important things to carry.

  • Just 60cm of standing water can move a heavy car, that’s not a lot and if there are passing cars this risk increases so move through water one side at a time.

  • It only takes an egg cup of water entering an engine to cause failure, most intakes for air that should never have water in are low down, if in doubt don’t risk it

What to watch out for

  • Look out for slip and trip hazards under the water

  • Make sure you know where kerbs are if you’re driving through

  • Manhole covers can get lifted and moved during floods so keep an eye for those

  • Water levels can change quickly, what was safe a few hours earlier might not be later

  • Always assume flood water is contaminated – flood water can include drainage and sewage

  • Fords can be flooded too high and make them unsafe

What are the real risks of driving in floods ?

  • Two thirds of those who die in flood-related accidents are good swimmers. 60% of people who drown do so 3 metres or less from where they could have been safe

  • A third (32%) of flood-related deaths are in vehicles.

  • Cold water reduces your muscle strength – 20 minutes in water of 12C lowers muscle temperature from 37ºC to 27ºC, reducing strength by 30%, this has more impact on those who are older or with mobility issues so could you do the shop for your older neighbour?

  • Just 60cm of standing water will float your car.and 30cm flowing water could be enough to move your car. 15cm can knock you off your feet.

  • A small amount of water can wreck an engine and they are expensive

  • Flood water is usually contaminated and can spread disease

  • Culverts are tunnels carrying water and have been known to suck away people and pets

  • If the speed of flood water doubles, the force it exerts on you or your car goes up four times.

  • It’s a challenge to stand in waist-deep water flowing at only 1m/s. By 1.8m/s (4mph) everyone is washed off their feet. Consider this before leaving your car.

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If you’d like to have your vehicle checked after driving through floods get in touch https://spannermonkeys.co.uk/contact/