How to deal with flash floods
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Durban - While parts of the country is experiencing heavy rains, the The Automobile Association (AA) in South Africa has urged motorists to follow basic rules during flash floods.
In a statement, the AA said flash floods can occur quickly and can be very dangerous.
“The AA urges all motorists caught up in floods to follow some basic rules to negotiate the safest route out of these situations,” the statement said.
The AA said the best way to deal with floods is to avoid them.
They said the South African Weather Service (SAWS) issued severe weather alerts which include flood warnings for parts of the country over the next few days.
“On days when the weather is heavy, motorists should listen to local radio traffic reports, monitor social media, and check online websites for advisories and cautions. If roads on your normal route are flooded, avoid them and seek alternatives, even if it means you will take a lot longer to get to your destination,” the AA advised.
However, the AA said if one meets with a flood, there are rules that can be followed.
“Firstly, if possible, turn around and drive away from the flooded area. If this isn’t possible, try and gauge the depth of the water ahead by watching other vehicles negotiate a specific stretch of water. Do not attempt to go through this if it is deeper than 20 centimetres as the water may damage mechanical and electronic components of your vehicle,” the AA said.
“Finally, it is important to remain as calm as possible in these situations and assess the best way out. If this means leaving your car, do that rather than attempt to get your car through when it clearly won’t make it as you may be endangering your life and those of any passengers with you,” the AA concludes.
The AA also gave the following tips:
Obey authorities and emergency personnel who tell you to avoid driving on a specific road. If a road has been closed, obey the closure, and drive the alternative route.
Do not try and cross a body of water, even if you think you can make it through, as the water may be deeper than you think, and the road may have eroded since you last used it.
If there is a risk you will be caught in a flood, pull off the road and look for higher ground.
If you do pull off, make sure you leave enough space for emergency vehicles to pass you.
If you have no alternative but to drive through a body of water, drive as slow as possible in first gear with both hands on the steering wheel. This will give your car the necessary traction to move forward. Driving fast may result in aquaplaning.
If you do make it through the water, check your car for any damage, and feather the brakes to dry them. Have an expert examine your vehicle afterwards for any damage that be longer lasting.
If your car has been partially or completely submerged, and you have stopped in a body of water, don’t try and start it unless you have had a technician look at it as this may result in damage to the engine.
Ensure you are as visible as possible. Switch on your headlights.
If your car is being surrounded by water, unfasten your seatbelt (and those of any children with you), unlock your doors, and open your windows. If water starts entering through the windows, get out of the vehicle and wade to the nearest point of safer higher ground. Remember, you are more important than your car.
If you are caught in a flood, be patient and remain calm. Emergency services will get you but there may be delays as they have to negotiate the same hazards.
Be especially cautious at night, or when visibility is low, as it may be harder to see floods ahead.