December 2023 brought with it torrential downpours and numerous flood watches and warnings. Multiple inches of rain caused drivers, pedestrians and homeowners to brush up on what to do when the water rises. Knowing basic safety rules will help keep you safe.
Learn where the flooding is or may soon be. Know how close you are to rivers, streams and dams. Plan a route that avoids underpasses. It is always best to delay any trip under flooding conditions. Allow time for the water to recede and for power lines and fallen trees and limbs to be removed. If you must travel, follow the following tips.
The first rule of the road during a flood is TURN AROUND, DON’T DROWN. Water rushing over a street may hide dips, potholes, debris and wash-outs. Six inches of water may flood the exhaust of your vehicle, causing a stall. Once your car is disabled, you may require assistance.
When in traffic, take turns with other cars, forming a single lane behind other drivers. If possible, drive down the center of the road. Roadways tend to be higher in the center. Move slowly, at 1-2 mph. Even ½” of water at a slow speed may cause loss of control. 12” of swift water may carry off a small car. Avoid water that rises above the center of the wheels. Cross the water at 3-4 mph.
Drive the car in low gear. The low gear will protect the car’s electronics and engine. Use first or second gear with your foot on the gas pedal. Use the brake only to regulate speed. Once through the water, dry the brakes by lightly braking and driving very slowly. Drive smoothly, keeping the car steady and tires pointed in the direction you wish to go. Avoid swerving or jerky moves.
If your car does flood, do not try to restart the engine. Before the engine is restarted, the plugs and injectors must be removed. It is best to leave the car and seek drier ground if it is safe.
If you are walking, 6 inches of rushing water may knock you off your feet.
Once the water recedes, return to the disabled vehicle. Call 9-1-1 for emergency help and always stay connected to family and neighbors.
Closer to home, stay informed. Make sure that storm drains are clear of leaves and other debris. In homes with basements, secure the area against flooding with sandbags if necessary. Assemble an emergency kit, including items for your pets. Pack bags and supplies for your family and leave before the flooding starts.
During a flood, seek higher ground and obey the evacuation orders. Disconnect utilities and appliances if time allows. Avoid the floodwaters! Obey road closure and cautionary signs. Contact family to let them know you are OK.
The Cascades Region sees many inches of rain each year. Some of this rain comes in torrents and causes troubles for residents living here. Following these safety rules will help to make dealing with floodwaters easier.
To download the free Red Cross Emergency App, please visit www.redcross.org/get-help.