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How to Drive and Protect Your Property When It Floods

By January 11, 2021July 7th, 2021Insurance, Personal Insurance

Be safe on the roads, at home, and at work

It has been raining in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) since December of last year. Even for us, that is a lot of rain. So much in fact that we have already broken some records in Seattle, Hoquiam, and Olympia since the start of the new year. It is looking like we should all expect ongoing rain and possible flooding in Western Washington.

Rain is not the only thing we are used to seeing. Daily driving, traffic, long commutes, hills, and water accumulation are common here and can put you at risk on the road, at home, and at your business.

What Does Lots of Rain Mean for Your Road Safety?

In addition to keeping your car maintained, especially your tire tread and air pressure, Mosaic Insurance gathered some important driving tips you can implement now and next time we get heavy rain.

rainy background with three tips on driving in the rain
  • If conditions are bad and you can avoid driving altogether, avoid it. If you decide to drive and you encounter a flooded road, take an alternate route if possible.
  • According to The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and a defensive driving school, I Drive Safely:
    • 5 centimeters/1.97 inches of water: you can lose control of your vehicle going at any speed.
    • 6 inches of water: the water can reach the bottom of most passenger cars. This can cause you to lose control of the vehicle and/or cause the vehicle to stall.
    • 1 foot of water: the water is deep enough to make many vehicles float.
    • 2 feet of rushing water:  the water is deep enough to carry away most vehicles, including trucks, SUVs, and sport utility vehicles.
  • Be extremely aware of your surroundings.
    • Pay attention to weather conditions when behind the wheel and before driving.
    • Take note of the road conditions in your neighborhood, routes you frequent like your drive to work, and other destinations that you are planning out. Your local weather stations, social media groups, and neighbors can have a lot of helpful information.
  • Avoid water with fallen powerlines. Those can be very harmful to you, especially since electricity flows through water well.
  • Have emergency items in your car.
    • Emergency roadside kit (spare tire, car jack, extra tire bolts, jumper cables, water, etc.).
    • Cellphone and cellphone charger so you can make emergency calls if needed.
    • Glass window breaker in case you cannot open your door or roll down the window.
    • Seatbelt cutter if your seatbelt locks up.
  • What are some basic tips for driving safely in the rain?
    • Don’t use cruise control when there is water on the roads. Driving through puddles while in cruise control can cause your car to accelerate. Additionally, since cruise control is disabled by braking, it can also make you brake when you shouldn’t.
    • Even if the road is not flooded, it is important to know that even half an inch of water can make you lose control of your car.
    • Overall, you should drive for the weather conditions, so take into consideration if you need to go under the speed limit to drive safely.
    • Be cautious of upcoming puddles and try to safely avoid them if you can. If you must drive through a puddle, keep in mind that puddles can easily jerk your steering. To help avoid hydroplaning, slow down beforehand and firmly grip the wheel as you drive through it. Do not hit your brakes or gas abruptly.
    • I Drive Safely recommends that if you start losing control of your car…
      1. Do not slam on your brakes
      2. Ease your foot off the gas pedal
      3. Steer your car in the desired direction
      4. Use your brakes based on their type. They recommend using gentle pumps for regular brakes and steady pressure for anti-lock brakes.
  • Do not drive through standing water.
    • As the saying goes “Turn Around, Don’t Drown (TADD).”
    • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that over half of flood-related drowning are due to vehicles driving in flooded water.
    • In deep water, you might not be able to see important road conditions like potholes and dips. Even if you know the road like the back of your hand, there might be hidden debris that is not normally there.
    • The weight of your vehicle and the water could collapse the road. Be extremely cautious of bridges or overpasses.
    • FEMA notes that for most cars, 6 inches is enough to flood your exhaust and/or cause a vehicle to lose traction and slide. If your exhaust floods, you will become immobile, and if you slide, there is no telling what catastrophic things will happen.
    • Progressive warns that if water gets into your engine, it could stall and do non-repairable damage. Your car engine will stop running if your combustion chamber floods and becomes hydrolocked.
  • If you are forced to drive through standing water…
    • Take note on how deep it is—what cars in front of you are making it through?
    • Drive slowly and steadily.
    • Keep an eye out for things floating in the water. Hitting something can jerk your steering, get you stuck, and/or damage something important on your car like your tire.
    • Typically, water is not as deep in the middle of the road since water tends to build up on outer lanes and road edges, so aim for driving in the center.
    • If there are other cars, try to drive with them so that you are not splashing each other.
    • Once you get out of the water, test your brakes. If your car is not stopping like it should, maintain a consistent slow speed and pump your brakes gently to try and dry them.
    • If you get trapped and the water is rising, abandon your car and go for higher ground. If you can’t open the door, roll down the window. Call 911 if you can’t get out safely.
  • If your car experienced any kind of damage by a flood, it is recommended by AAA to get it inspected by a mechanic ASAP. They also recommend speaking to your insurance agent about your coverage before the inspection since significant damage can cost you out of pocket if you do not have a comprehensive auto insurance policy.

Do I Need Flood Insurance for My Car, Home, and/or Business?

Some good questions to ask yourself:

  • Am I in or near a flood zone?
  • Are hills not working in my favor? (i.e. You are at the bottom of a large hill and gravity directs it towards you instead of away from you.)
  • Am I on lots of flat land so that the water is settling and accumulating?
  • Has my property ever flooded before?
  • Have my neighbors had issues with flooding?
  • Does water drain well on my property, or are there areas for it to get trapped and accumulate?
  • Are the drains around me efficient? Are they prone to clogging or not being able to keep up?
  • Do I drive in areas that are prone to flooding?
  • Does my car insurance cover flood damage?

One of our wonderful agents can chat with you about insurance to see if it is something that you would like to do. If you are already our client, we can also look into your auto policy to see if it covers flood damage and help you get the coverage you need. You can give us a call or text us at 425-320-4280, use the chat feature in the bottom right corner, or fill out our get a quote form.

Some more information you might find helpful:

How Do I Get Flood Insurance?

Call us for a free quote today or to ask any questions that you may have. You can also fill out our online quote form and one of our teammates will reach out to you to help get you the policy you need and look into your concerns. You can also visit out flood insurance page if you would like a little more information before reach out.

Here at Mosaic, we know that the last thing you want is to have your car, home, or office flood and not have the insurance that you need to help get things up and running again. Stay safe out there!

Information for this item provided by: Safeco Insurance, PEMCO Insurance, Progressive Insurance, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), National Weather Service, AAA, Consumer Reports, National Healthy Service, IDriveSafely.com, Carwise.co, MyNorthwest.com, and The Everett Herald.

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