Do's and Don'ts if Your Car Is Caught in a Flood
By Matt Schmitz
on September 13, 2013
Storms moving through central Colorado in recent days have dropped record rainfall in a short time, causing floods that resulted in the deaths of three people in addition to mass evacuations, property destruction, school closures and impassable highways and roads. USA Today reported that the hardest-hit area has been Boulder County, where a 130-mile swath from Colorado Springs to north of Fort Collins was impacted; even in downtown Denver, a 15-block area was evacuated due to rising flood water. Rescuers responded to numerous emergency calls from motorists caught in high waters, including reports of people trapped in submerged cars.
With the National Weather Service forecasting 6 to 10 inches of additional rain over the weekend, Colorado residents in some areas remained at risk of flash floods, according to USA Today. In these conditions, it's vital to remember to never try to cross or drive on a flooded roadway — even a foot of water is often enough to sweep away you and your vehicle, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. If you do find yourself trapped in a flooded vehicle, Cars.com reiterates the following safety tips:
- Stay calm. You'll need your wits about you.
- Turn on your headlights and hazard lights. This will make it easier for emergency personnel to see you.
- Unbuckle your seat belt.
- Unlock your doors.
- Take jackets and outer clothing off.
- Lower your window. Most electric windows should work unless the car is completely submerged in water.
- If you can lower the windows, do so, but slowly. Climb out. Get to high ground and call 911.
- If the windows will not open, you'll have to use a door to get out. But you won't be able to open a door until the water pressure is equalized between the outside and the inside of the car. This means you'll have to wait for water to enter the car and fill up to about your neck level (this sounds terrifying, but this is the only way the doors will open).
- Once the doors are open, swim to safety and call 911.
- Do not panic.
- Do not use your energy trying to open the doors because water pressure will keep them from budging (wait for the pressure to equalize).
- Do not try to save your possessions.
- Do not try to break windows to get out. If water pressure has not equalized, glass will explode inward toward you or other occupants.
- Once out, do not stay with your car. Get to high ground.
- Do not stand on the roof of your car. If your car is swept away, you'll be carried away with it. You could also fall and injure yourself if the car shifts abruptly.
- Do not return to your car if you think the water level is going down. Water levels could rise without warning. Allow emergency personnel to tow your vehicle to a safe place.
Flood threat still strong as 3 killed in Colo.
What To Do If Your Car Has Been Flooded
More Safety News on Cars.com
News Editor Matt Schmitz is a veteran Chicago journalist indulging his curiosity for all things auto while helping to inform car shoppers. Email Matt