What to do if your car is caught in a flash flood

What to do if your car is caught in a flash flood

Definition: flash flood


  1. a sudden local flood, typically due to heavy rain.

Floods can become dangerous and deadly, especially for drivers. November 2016 saw at least four people killed when flash floods hit some parts of Johannesburg.

Here are some useful tips to keep in mind should you get stuck in a flash flood:

If you are inside your car :

  • Never drive through a flooded road or bridge. Back up and try a different route.
  • Stay on high ground.
  • Listen to the radio for weather updates  and take routes that avoid flooded areas.

If you find your car surrounded by floodwater but not submerged

  • Do not walk into fast flowing water unless it is extremely shallow. Only 16cm of flowing water can knock you off your feet.
  • If your vehicle is surrounded by shallow water and you are caught in a traffic jam, abandon the vehicle and move immediately to higher ground. Do not stay in a car that may get flooded.
  • Do not panic if your car becomes submerged. Release your seat belt, roll down your window and get out of the car.
  • If you are stranded above the floodwater, such as in a tree or a building, stay put and wait for rescue. Do not enter the floodwater.

If you find yourself inside your car and submerged by water

  • If your car is swept into the water and submerged –  stay calm.
  • Undo your seat belt.
  • Open the windows before or as soon as you hit the water. If you need to, break the window with any heavy object you have available.
  • Continue to breathe normally until the water is at chest level, then take a deep breath and hold your nose.
  • Swim out of the car and to the surface as quickly as possible. If you don’t know which way to swim, look for light and swim toward it or follow any bubbles you see as they will be going upwards.
  • If you are swept into fast-moving floodwater outside of your car, stay afloat and point your feet downstream. Always go over obstacles, never try to go under.

Disclaimer: The points above are collected from experts on the topic. All points should be taken as advice and are not meant to cover all possible circumstances.

Speak to Iemas Insurance Brokers about Short-term or Life Insurance for an obligation-free quote:
Call 0860 12 383 | SMS ‘Quote’ to 32297 (R1/SMS) | email stileads@iemas.co.za or groupschemes@iemas.co.za

Adapted from: https://www.enca.com/south-africa/what-to-do-if-your-car-is-caught-in-a-flash-flood?

Read other interesting articles here: Safety tips for driving in heavy rain or Wheel and tyre safety to keep your vehicle on the road

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