Lost in the flood
6 ways to stay safe in a flash flood
I was at the medical center the other day visiting with one of our families for a news story. I didn’t realize the extent of the torrential downpour going on outside.
I left the medical center and started the trek home. Within a few minutes, I knew it was a bad idea. Not only was it pouring, but it clearly had been for a while. The streets were filled with water. Lots of water.
After I made the phone call to my coworkers telling them it was unsafe to drive and to stay at the office, I realized that I needed to hurry to higher ground. I continued to drive cautiously.
The next 15 minutes were terrifying. I saw cars floating and people swimming on the road in front of me. My first thought was I need to get to a street that isn’t flooded. I turned onto a side street and ended up at an intersection that I knew my car couldn’t get through. The big SUV in front of me was driving through it and the water was hitting the car door. So I decided to back up. The only problem was there were cars behind me now.
I was stuck. Nowhere to go. I watched the water go from inches deep to over 2 feet in a matter of seconds. I found myself panicking. I mean seriously, I would never be stuck in a flash flood, right? Well I was.
I didn’t know what to do. I work at a children’s hospital and preach about safety to friends and family all the time. Now here I was, in a situation that I didn’t have a clue how to handle.
Do I get out? Do I stay in the car? Do I swim to higher ground? The water was so rough. It was literally swirling around my car and getting higher and higher.
Fortunately, either by the grace of the man upstairs or pure luck, all the cars behind me started to back up so I was able to do the same and eventually made my way to higher ground.
This was my first and definitely the LAST time I ever want to be in this situation. But just in case it happens again, I wat to be prepared. So I contacted my buddy at the Fort Worth Fire Department, Battalion Chief Richard Harrison and he gave me some good tips:
- Be aware that flash flooding can occur. If there is any possibility of a flash flood, move immediately to higher ground. Do not wait for instructions to move.
- Do not drive into flooded areas.
- If floodwaters rise around your car, when water is not moving or not more than a few inches deep, abandon the car and move to higher ground. You and the vehicle can be swept away quickly. Call 911 in case of an emergency.
- If your vehicle is trapped in rapidly moving water, stay in the vehicle. If the water is rising inside the vehicle, seek refuge on the roof.
- If your car is parked in an area that is flooding, don’t go after it.
- Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can make you fall. If you have to walk in water, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
Chief Harrison says these same rules apply when you are in the car with a child, but make sure you give yourself more time to react. This is true if you have to leave your vehicle, especially if you have a car seat. It will take time to get out. Because of this, you have to heighten your awareness with everything going on.
Also, reassure your children that everything will be Ok and try to stay calm. I know I sure could have used my mother the other day.