Flooding is a fact of life in Houston. From 1999 to 2018, Harris County saw 99 days with at least one flooding or flash-flooding event reported, according to The Weather Channel, which argues that Houston could be America’s flash-flood capital.
Houstonians are acclimated to flooding, and we don’t let it get in the way of everyday life. But before you venture out when the water is high, it’s good to keep in mind some safety tips for driving during a flood.
Five tips for driving in a flood
In Houston, it’s important that people know what to do when they encounter flooded roads while driving. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Drive slowly: Road conditions quickly deteriorate during heavy rains and flooding. Driving slowly will give you more time to react to hazards and will allow you to stop faster.
- Don’t drive through moving water: Moving water can erode or completely wash out the roadway surface underneath. Water is often more forceful than it may seem, and there’s the possibility your car could be swept up in the waters.
- Obey barricades: Barricades and other signage is there for a reason. Obey it. You can’t see what’s underneath the water, and a pot hole or a dip in the road could be detrimental to your vehicle and you your safety.
- Avoid deep water: Try to gauge how deep standing water is, using other cars as a reference. If the water comes up past the center of your wheels, do not drive into it. Even a small amount of water can damage your engine.
- Check your brakes: Driving in water can cause your brakes to lose effectiveness. Test them by driving at low speeds on a dry roadway and gently applying pressure to the brakes. You may be able to dry your brakes by lightly braking while you accelerate slowly.
While the tips above can make your journey safer, if you can, avoid driving when there is substantial flooding. Both your vehicle and your life could be put at risk.