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Things to Do If You’re Caught in a Flash Flood

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The water is rising fast — what do you do?

They’re called flash floods for a reason. They’re on you in a flash, and you may not necessarily be prepared for it. If by chance, you get caught in a flash flood, here’s how to handle it.

1. Do not panic (duh).

It should go without saying, but it’s harder to stay calm when the moment happens.

2. If you can’t see the bottom, you shouldn’t drive through it.

This is where so many people go astray. They think because they’ve been down a road a million times, they can navigate a flooded road. You need to know what your vehicle can and can’t handle, for starters. But beyond that, if you can’t see through to the bottom of the water, then you really have no idea where your vehicle is. Is that ditch a little further right or not? Why take a chance. And that doesn’t even count underwater currents you might not see…

3. It doesn’t take as much water as you think for a current to take you away.

Getting to high ground is crucial. As little as six inches of water could have enough of a current to take a grown adult off their feet. If you’re driving a small car into deeper water, that same amount of water could take driving control away from you. That’s another reason to follow No. 2.

4. If you’re in a car and get submerged, you may have trouble getting out.

If your car becomes submerged, it may be difficult to open your car door due to the water pressure outside of the car. Undo your seat belt and be prepared to leave the car by rolling down your window. If you can’t open the windows, letting the car fill will water will make the doors easier to open. (Again, easier said than done.)

5. Better to climb on top of things than to stay in flood waters.

Once flood waters reach a certain height, you can expect that water to be filled with all kinds of contaminants. In addition from vehicle fluids leaking out, raw sewage can easily backflow into flood waters. In Hurricane Katrina, a lot wading through contaminated floodwaters led to a number of health problems for people.

6. If you do get swept away, point your feet downstream.

Obviously, if you get knocked off your feet pulled into floodwaters, you may have an easier time flowing WITH the water and trying to angle yourself toward safety than trying to fight against the flow. Regardless, you’re going to be in a lot better shape looking where you’re going.

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