Surviving flash flooding in your car - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Surviving flash flooding in your car

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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Four metro Atlanta counties were declared disaster areas by the president Thursday. Vice president Joe Biden will be in the Atlanta area to survey the damage.

The disaster declaration makes federal funding available to affected residents of Cobb, Spalding, Douglas, and Cherokee counties. Aid may include grants to help pay for temporary housing, home repairs and other serious disaster-related expenses.

Nine people were killed in the flooding. Damage estimate stand at around $250 million.

The majority of the victims in Atlanta died in the flooded vehicles, swept away by rain-swollen creeks and streams.

And in it least one case, a Gwinnett County woman had time to call 911 to say she was floating in a flooded mini-van that was slowing sinking.

Would we know what to do if we were trapped inside a sinking vehicle?  It only takes six inches of standing water to reach the bottom of most passenger cars, causing a loss of control and stalling.

In a foot of water, that's only this deep a car will float, so the best advice from emergency responders, never drive into standing water.

Five of the nine people killed in north Georgia floodwaters died in their submerged vehicles. Last spring when southwest Georgia was drenched in 15 inches of rain drivers in Albany and Thomasville had to be rescued when flood waters swallowed their cars. Emergency responders say the best advice is never to drive across a flooded roadway.

"The best thing to do is stay out of water if you don't know what the bottom looks like," said Dougherty Co. EMA Director James Carswell.

If you find yourself trapped, here's what you need to know. "The first thing you do is roll down the windows, whether electric or manual," said Carswell.

Hold on tight to a part of the car, like a steering wheel, when water fills the car swim out.

"Your best chance of survival if you're in running water is getting out of the vehicle and either using the vehicle for a floatation device or a stationary object to climb onto like a tree or another stationary object," said Carswell. 

Keep in mind if water covers the electrical contacts it's going to short out your electric windows in that case something like this life hammer might help.

"There are things like spring loaded punches that will actually break tempered glass."

Don't try the front windshield, it's double paned glass and resistant to break, always use a side window.

"Obviously the side windows are the ones if you're going to go that route."

The last thing which is the toughest, is not to panic. Emergency officials say you have about 30 seconds to get out of a sinking car.

That's why they say understanding how to escape a sinking car is something to stop and think about incase you ever end up in that situation.

Drowning ranks fourth on the list for unintentional injuries. Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles including SUV's and Pick-ups.

      • Click HERE to see safety tips from the National Weather Service.

 

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