Would you drive your car through 6 inches of water? If so, you're in company with one in three U.S. drivers who say they're comfortable driving through a half-foot of water, according to a survey by Farmers Insurance.
While it doesn't seem like much, 6 inches of water is high enough to reach the bottom of most vehicles and could cause you to lose control or stall out in a flooded street. And it could get worse. A flash flood with just a foot of water can float a vehicle, and 2 feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles, including SUVs and pickup trucks. Almost half of all fatalities in flash flood occur in vehicles, according to FEMA.
No matter what type of vehicle you're driving, if you come upon a barricaded or flooded road your best option is to turn around.
Here are more flood-related tips from FEMA:
- Monitor National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Radio (NOAA), visit weather.gov or tune-in to your local news for weather updates.
- If flooding is expected or occurring, get to higher ground.
- Avoided areas that are already flooded, especially if the water is flowing fast. Do not attempt to drive through it.
- Do not park your car near streams or washes.
- Be extra cautious at night when it's harder to see flooded areas.
- Do not ignore or go around barriers put in place by local emergency officials.
Comprehensive insurance covers car damage from floods -- even if you drove into a flooded street area.
If you suspect your car has been damaged by flood water, act quickly:
- Have it towed to higher ground, if necessary.
- Use a wet/dry vacuum to collect any standing water.
- Use cloth towels to absorb any water that may have soaked into the seats and cushions (or use fans and dehumidifiers, if possible).
- Do not try to start a car that has stalled out in water. This could further damage the engine.