Driving through water & Floods
30cm of fast flowing water is enough to move the average family car !
10cm of fast flowing water can knock you off your feet !
60cm of standing water can float a car !
Recently the Uk has been hit with a lot of rain causing flooding all around the Uk. And while it’s great to get out this time of year and most people enjoy a nice water crossing there are many risks involved and its one of most dangerous parts to driving in your 4x4 or any vehicle. Sadly, over the years it has taken the lives of some, and family’s lives have been changed forever.
Below we have some tips on driving water crossings and flood water.
Tips for Driving in Floods - The Essentials:
Firstly, understand the different types of floods:
- Flash Floods: Quick and dangerous, happening after heavy rain. They can catch you off guard.
- Coastal Floods: Areas get flooded with seawater.
- River Floods: When a river overflows its banks.
- Urban Floods: In urban areas, concrete and tarmac cause fast flooding, though not as severe as others.
- Avoid Fast Flowing Water: Don't risk it; the force of water can wash your car away.
- How Deep? If you're unsure of the water depth, don't drive in. Water can damage your engine and also your vehicle if you stall. Its good practice to walk the route and check the depth, debris and what the base of the ground is. If you cant walk it or it's too dangerous to walk, dont drive it.
- Ford Warning: Even fords may not be safe during floods. Check depth gauges and barriers if you cant see any do not cross.
- Drive Slowly: Keep it around 2-3 mph entering the water and as you gain a bit of depth increse to around 5mph to make the bow wave. This creates a low point of water at doors. Avoid creating large waves over the bonnet. If done right you can also very slighty back off and this can create the bow wave just infront of the vehicle.
- Keep Your Distance: Stay back from the vehicle in front.
- Keep Engine Revs Higher: Prevent water from entering the exhaust. Rev up between 3,000 and 4000 rpm.
- Get High: Drive to the highest point on the road.
- Your Brakes: Apply them moderately after driving through water to clear water from discs and pads.
- Do You Need to Drive? Consider if driving is essential. If not, wait until the flooding subsides, especially after flash floods.
Be aware of hidden obstacles: Flood water can hide many hidden objects from disloged drain covers, debris under the water, Mud.
- Windows: Leave windows down incase of the need to escape. If you have a sunroof open this too. Doors in deep submerched water are hard to open due to the pressure differance. Carry glass breaker in reach of the driver and passenger. One we reccomend can be found in our store. Click here
- Remember property owners: Flooding can cause stress, disruption to their routines and carries huge financial implications. Be respectful and if you see homeowners with flood defenses in place, consider going a different way to avoid causing waves over these - or at least see if you can be of any assistance if you see a stranded car check theres no one inside.
Bow wave on the Series crossing upstream
Understand Your Boundaries
Although numerous 4x4 vehicles possess the capability to navigate through water, it's crucial to recognize the specific limits of your particular vehicle. Different 4x4s vary in their water fording abilities, so it's essential to consider this when deciding whether to proceed through a water obstacle. Always prioritize safety above all else.
Driving through water, particularly in flooded or submerged areas, poses various dangers that can compromise both the safety of the vehicle occupants and the integrity of the vehicle itself. Here are some significant dangers associated with driving through water:
Loss of Vehicle Control: Driving through water can lead to a loss of control over the vehicle. The water creates resistance against the tires, making steering more challenging. Hydroplaning may occur, causing the vehicle to skid or slide unpredictably.
Engine Damage: Submerging a vehicle in water can result in severe damage to the engine. Water entering the engine through the air intake can cause it to stall or, in extreme cases, lead to irreversible damage. Water in the engine can also damage the transmission and other critical components.
Electrical System Failure: Water can damage the electrical systems of the vehicle, including the ignition system, lights, and other crucial components. This can result in a loss of power, making it difficult to control the vehicle or even causing it to stall in the middle of the water.
Buoyancy and Floating Risk: Vehicles are heavy, but in flooded conditions, the buoyancy of water can lift a vehicle and make it float. This is especially true in areas with strong currents. Floating vehicles can be uncontrollable and may capsize, putting occupants at risk of injury or drowning.
Hidden Hazards: Floodwaters can hide various hazards such as debris, rocks, and other obstacles beneath the surface. These hidden obstacles can damage the vehicle or cause it to become stuck, posing a risk to both the occupants and the vehicle itself.
Risk of Drowning: Driving through deep water increases the risk of the vehicle getting stuck or even floating away. If the water level rises suddenly or if the vehicle becomes trapped, occupants may find themselves in a dangerous situation, facing the risk of drowning. In very deep water the chance of capsizing is increased due to the tyres been full of air and become the most boyant part of the vehicle as it fills up with water.
- Water Contamination: Your vehicle could add pollution into the water especially if you breakdown.
Car in water escape
Cars in water are more common than you may think. Occasionally driving off banks into rivers, attempting floods, parking brake failure.
Point to check on your own car and know your escape plan. Some cars after 2017 have laminated driver and passenger windows so may need escape via rear passenger windows. In any escape dont try and break the windscreen as this is laminated in all vehicles. Note Modern cars lock the doors when driving and may not unlock in water,
Firstly Dont panic, What happens next could depend on your actions.
- When the vehicle enters the water remove / cut your seatbelt.
- You maybe able to open a door if water is shallow enough and your wheel on firm ground but its probably better to exit via a window. It is reccommed not to open doors.
- If your windows are up get your glass breaker asap and pop the nearest window, If you havent got one of these press for the windows to go down if there not already. But in some situations the electrics getting wet can make your windows go up and down on there own leaving you trapped, If you have option to break them do so. For this you can also remove the head rest from your seat and use the points to break the glass. Practice how they come off the seat so you know how to in a emergency.
- The car will sink heavy end first, where the engine is located. If your car is going to sink it wont do immediately even with the windows down or out.
- Use every moment you have to free yourself, if children are in the car push them out first, dont try and save valuables.
- If you cant escape via a window and your doors are unlocked before the car goes under, last resort, keep your head above the water in the pocket of air, Hoefully enough for a minute or two, wait for the car to nearly fill up with water, take a deep breath pull the door handle to unlock the door and push the car door open. you may need to use your feet for extra strength. in this situation your waiting the water pressure outside to equal the pressure in the car.
Remember if in Doubt then back out and find another way
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