NEWS

How to Protect Yourself and Your Car During Hurricane Season

ford-f150-hybrid-supercrew-limited-2021-143-tool 2021 Ford F-150 hybrid | Cars.com photo by Joe Wiesenfelder

The impact of Hurricanes Fiona and Ian in recent weeks is a reminder of how severe weather can severely alter lives, from the most extreme cases of death and injury to property damage and destruction. For vehicle owners, however, there are steps you can take to minimize the danger if you’re caught in the middle of the storm, mitigate your circumstances in the short-term aftermath and protect yourself if you’re shopping for something new as a result of such an event.

Related: Game Changer: Using Ford F-150’s Pro Power Onboard for Off-the-Grid Camping

What to Do in Rising Floodwaters

Though flash floods aren’t unheard of, a more common danger for motorists amid tropical storms, hurricanes and cyclones is driving into floodwater they can’t see to the bottom of. As most passenger vehicles only have about half a foot of clearance, it’s critical you know what to do if you get trapped in your car before you take the risk.

Using Electrified Vehicles for Power

When hurricanes hit, the power grid is typically among the most significant infrastructural casualties. But as electrified vehicles become more common, so, too, do tales of their ability to assist. It’s not just that their efficiency is an ally in times of rising gas prices; there can also be a more direct application via bidirectional charging, wherein DC power is converted back to AC through a dedicated charger or an inverter within the vehicle.

The February story of a Texas man using his Ford F-150 hybrid to power his home for three days amid outages and freezing temperatures made national news, but he’d bought it with hurricanes in mind. In any case, the F-150 hybrid’s Pro Power Onboard generator system is one we’ve tested extensively and also found (mostly) successful. Similarly, Ford claims the F-150 Lightning EV is capable of powering an average home for up to 10 days on rationed usage via its Intelligent Backup Power system.

Such bidirectional charging is not strictly limited to higher-end pickup trucks, though there are a few key differences among vehicle-to-grid (V2G), vehicle-to-home (V2H) and vehicle-to-load (V2L) charging systems. Some EVs, such as the Nissan Leaf or Kia EV6, also offer bidirectional charging capabilities that you can utilize in the event of disaster.

Beware Flood-Damaged Cars

As with most things in capitalism, opportunists inevitably appear in the wake of severe weather to huck used cars for a quick profit that may look new but are, in fact, terminally flood-damaged. Protect yourself as a consumer by doing a little extra beyond the usual homework before you purchase.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau, for instance, has a vehicle identification number lookup page that includes damaged vehicles resulting from claims data provided electronically by NICB member insurance companies. But even if that service isn’t available to you as you’re shopping on lots, always be sure to do a thorough flood-oriented inspection and look for such things as water stains and mildew, fogging on the headlights or taillights, and rust in places water ordinarily shouldn’t reach.

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