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What To Do If Your Car Is Caught In A Flood

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Floods are the most common of all the weather-related natural disasters there are in the world. Flooding accounts for more loss of life and property than any other type of hazard or severe weather, according to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association. Every state in Nigeria is prone to flooding, especially Lagos. Therefore, if your car is partially or fully submerged in floodwater and you do not have the right type of car insurance, you could be stuck with costly repair bills or, even worse, the risk of losing the vehicle.

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What To Do If Your Car Gets Caught In A Flood

First things first, try to avoid flooded areas. If you see water on the road, find a possible way to turn around and take another way. It can be much deeper than it looks. The most common flood deaths happen when vehicles are driven into floodwater. Flash floods are considered the most dangerous type of floods because of their speed and destructive power. They can happen within minutes of rainfall and with little warning.

Densely populated areas are at a high risk of flash floods because buildings, driveways, roadways and parking lots can cause water runoff. Storm drains and sewers become overwhelmed or clogged and then causes the nearby roads to be flooded.


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Even as little as six inches of water can cause you to lose control of your vehicle. Higher water will be even more dangerous. That is because your tires can act as a flotation device in shallow water. Two feet of water is enough to float a 3,000 pound car. That is like a 2019 Honda Civic Sedan that weighs about 2,762 pounds.

If your car is caught in a flood, here are some tips to follow:

  1. Leave your car immediately and seek higher ground.
  2. If your car is swept into the water and submerged, try not to panic. Stay calm and wait for the car to fill with water. Once the car is full, you will be able to open a door. Note that the water pressure needs to be equalized between the outside and inside of the car for the door to open.
  3. Hold your breath and then swim to the surface.
  4. If you are swept into fast moving flood water when you are not in a vehicle, point your feet downstream. Always try to go over obstacles, like tree branches in the water, never under them.
  5. If you are stranded on an object above the floodwater, like a building or tree, stay where you are and wait for rescue. Do not go into the flood water.
  6. When help arrives, remain calm and follow the directions of the rescue team.

What Not To Do If Your Car Gets Caught In A Flood

In as much as this article talks about what to do if your car gets caught in a flood, you should also know things NOT to do if your car gets caught in a flood. This will help to avoid any unforeseen circumstances. They are as follows;

  1. First things first, do not panic. This cannot be overemphasised. Being calm in a situation like that would help you think properly and not make hasty decisions that could ruin your car, or even worse, cut short your life.
  2. Do not use your energy trying to open the doors because water pressure will keep them from budging. You should wait for the pressure to equalise.
  3. Do not try to save your possessions. Your life is more important as you should know.
  4. Do not try to break windows to get out. If water pressure has not equalized, glass will explode inward toward you or other occupants because of the force of water.
  5. Once out, do not stay with your car. Get to high ground as fast as you can.
  6. Do not stand on the roof of your car. If your car is swept away, you will be carried away with it easily. You could also fall and injure yourself if the car shifts very suddenly.
  7. Do not return to your car if you think the water level is going down. Water levels could rise without warning. Allow emergency personnel to tow your vehicle to a safe place first.

What To Do With Your Car After A Flood

Attempt to get to your car only when the floodwaters have receded and it is safe to do so. If necessary, have your car towed to higher ground. Here are some other tips on dealing with a car that has been in water:

  1. Do not attempt to start a flooded car. If there is water in the engine, you could cause even more damage.
  2. Use a wet or dry vacuum to remove any standing water.
  3. Use towels to absorb water that may have soaked into the seats and cushions.
  4. Use dehumidifiers and fans, if possible.
10 Best Cars for the Rainy Season in Nigeria
10 Best Cars for the Rainy Season in Nigeria

Telltale Signs To Know If A Car You Are Buying Has Flood Damage

Here are seven telltale signs of flood damage in any vehicle:

  1. A musty odor in the interior because the seller might try to cover this up with air freshener.
  2. Loose upholstery or carpeting, stains or upholstery that do not seem to match.
  3. Wet carpets.
  4. Rust around doors, on the pedals, inside the hood, on trunk latches and under the dashboard.
  5. Mud or silt under the seats or in the glove compartment.
  6. Brittle wires under the dashboard.
  7. Fog or moisture beads in the exterior lights, interior lights or instrument panel.

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Ajumoke is an enthusiastic content writer, artist and music lover. Her writing niches are fashion, automobiles, lifestyle and beauty. In her spare time, she loves shopping and spending time with family and friends.

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