Advice, tips on what to do if you are caught up in a flash flood

When caught on the road in the midst of a heavy storm, switch on your vehicle's headlights and try to use an alternative, safer route.

Here are some thoughtful safety tips for travelling residents to keep in mind:

• The best way to avoid being caught inside your car is to avoid water on the road.

• Never drive through a flooded road or bridge. Use an alternative route.

• Stay on high ground.

• Listen to the radio for weather information, to plan your route in advance.

• Don’t walk into moving water unless it is extremely shallow. Just 16 cm of moving water can knock you off your feet.

• If your vehicle is surrounded by shallow water and you are caught in a traffic jam because of deeper conditions ahead, abandon the vehicle and move immediately to higher ground. Do not stay in a car – it might get flooded.

• If you are stranded on an object above the floodwater, such as a tree or a building, stay put and wait for rescue. Do not enter the water and wait for rescue.

• If you’re driving through a flash flood, open your window so that if the car becomes stranded or flooded, you can easily exit. If you have to, break the window.

• If you have a baby or toddler in the vehicle, do not exit without them – take them in your arms while you are exiting; do not leave them unattended, the water may grab you and leave them behind.

• When it rains heavily, turn on your headlights and hazard-lights so that your car is visible at all times.

• Continue to breathe normally until water reaches your shoulders, then take a deep breath and hold your nose. Swim to the nearest place of safety.

• If you are swept into moving floodwater outside of your car, point your feet downstream. Always go over obstacles, never try to go under.

• Always make sure you are safe before helping anybody else, otherwise you may harm both them and yourself.

• If water comes into your vehicle, abandon it immediately as you might get caught in it – also if floodwater moves your vehicle.

• Warn other motorists of danger ahead if you have successfully driven through floodwater by flashing your vehicle’s high beam.

• Contact your insurance broker as soon as possible if your vehicle is flooded or swept away.

• Contact the South African Police Service and Ambulance Services if they are not present at the flood scene. Alternatively, contact Netcare 911.

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