What To Do If You’re Caught Driving In a Flash Flood
Author: Sherryn de Vos
Being involved in an accident involving water can be petrifying and deadly. How do you get out of a sinking car alive?
The flooding in summer in Johannesburg, and in the north of the country has, if nothing else, proven that getting into tricky situations in water is terrifyingly easy. In most cases, people attempt to cross flooded bridges in their cars not knowing the depth and strength of the water. Cars have been found days later in piles of debris kilometres from where they were last seen. We take a look at what happens when you get trapped in a car during a flash flood.
The first piece of advice is to stay away from flooded areas completely. Sure, this might not be possible if it has caught you unaware. If you have a choice to not cross a bridge over a swollen river, choose to stop, turn around, and find the longer way home. You will never know the power of water until you are actually in the middle of it.In many cases, crossing a river can cause your engine to cut out and you will be left in the middle of a newly formed raging river without any power to motor out. This is a highly dangerous situation and the chances of you being pushed down the river are incredibly high.
Take Your Seatbelt Off And Open The Windows
These should be your very first actions when you hit the water. If you have had a hard hit, for example, gone off a bridge into the river below, the seatbelt could save your life. When you start sinking, it is advisable to get it off to exit the car as quickly as possible. You will need to keep several things in mind. A car’s electrical system usually only lasts up to three minutes in water. So, you will need to think quickly if you have electrical windows. Also, unlock your car as soon as possible
Only Try The Door If It Is Not Submerged
What you will also need to keep in mind, is the fact that the pressure of water up against the car door will make it virtually impossible for you to open it yourself. It will only be possible once the car has been filled with water. By this stage, it could be too late. Get those windows down as soon as possible and get ready to escape through them.Cars usually take around 30 seconds to two minutes to start sinking. They will also sink on the side where the engine is. During this time of floating, you will be able to still open windows and check how far up the water is to your doors. Opening the door, despite being virtually impossible, will also increase the sink time. So, keep in mind the escape route through the windows.
Although this sounds logical, it’s not as easy as it seems. Many windows are protected by smash and grabs and the glass is very thick. You will need to use something to assist you to break the thick glass. If you haven’t managed to get the windows down in time, this is your second best way of escaping. Use your shoe or any solid object you may have in your car. Do not even attempt to break the windshield. This has been created to not break under normal circumstances.
If The Window Doesn’t Break, Try The Door
As mentioned previously, you will only be able to open the door once the pressure has been equalised between the interior and exterior. It has been proven that the best time to do this is when the car is fully submerged. A car will usually take up to two minutes to fill up. Many studies show that waiting for the car to hit the bottom and fill with water is the next best option. This, however, comes with its own dangers. Firstly, you do not know how deep the body of water is, and by the time the car does hit the bottom, it could be too late. Secondly, you could get into trouble swimming up due to the long amount of time you have already spent underwater.
Swim To Safety And Call Emergency Services
Once you have gotten out of the car, and the water, try and call for emergency services as soon as possible. You are at high risk of getting hypothermia and will be in shock from the accident.