The familiar and often-used phrase “Oil and water don’t mix” was not related to automobiles. But it could easily be applied to what can happen if a person tries to drive in a flood.
If a vehicle stalls while in water, any attempt to restart the engine could cause serious damage and put the automobile out of commission.
Engines must draw in air to carry out their normal operation. But if they bring in water instead of air, the water won’t compress when the engine “turns over”. The damage caused by that is something no mechanic can fix.
If the engine gets flooded and the car dies, the driver is then stranded out in the middle of a muddy swamp with no place to go.
The water would likely be too dirty to swim in. Plus, the probability of objects – many of which could be broken – floating in the water make swimming unsafe. And there is sure to be something attached to the ground looming under the surface.
Because of all this, the driver would be forced to wait with his or her stalled vehicle until emergency personnel could reach it. Depending on the size of the flooded area and the number of people in need of assistance, the wait could be very long.
But while much of the attention on a flood-soaked vehicle is usually focused on the engine, it is important to not forget about the interior of the vehicle if there are any hopes of saving it.
If an automobile stalls in a flooded area and begins to float away, an obvious thought for the driver is to get out of the vehicle.
However, reports overwhelmingly favor staying inside. It is much safer for the driver, and opening the door would allow flood water into the vehicle and cause serious damage to the interior.
If the situation mentioned above occurs and the water rises too much, car tires lose contact with the road and the driver loses control of the vehicle. Then it becomes the equivalent of a small boat caught in a tidal wave.
At that point, the driver has two choices – abandon ship or hang on tight. The problems created by abandoning the ship have already been covered, so it is up to the driver to hang on.
There is the definite possibility that the vehicle will collide with other vehicles, trees, floating objects, and even buildings while caught in flood waters.
But the driver will be much safer doing that inside an automobile, rather than floating out in the water uncovered and crashing into all of those things with his or her body.
Of course, the whole scenario about the tidal wave and hanging on to the ship, etc., wouldn’t even be part of this story if the person behind the wheel elected to stay out of the water.
Though the stress created by wanting to check on a loved one, friend or even one’s own house would be enormous in the event of a flood, the only sensible thing to do is head for higher, drier ground.
Emergency personnel are trained to handle the situation and move around where they need to if the water overflows. An untrained person trying to drive in a flooded area will only create an additional, unnecessary emergency situation.