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April Showers Can Bring a Flash Flood

Of course, April showers bring May flowers. But when that rain comes, we can also get flash flooding near the Des Plaines River and the Fox River. Although home damages are terrible, we forget about what to do if we are on the road during one of these storms.

Flash Flood Warnings

If the National Weather Service issues a Flash Flood Warning for your area, follow these steps:

  • If advised to evacuate, do so immediately!
  • Get out of areas that are subject to flooding. Move to a safe area before flood waters begin. Stay away from low spots.
  • Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams and washes, particularly during threatening conditions.
  • Do not drive if it is not necessary. Check out the steps to follow if you are on the road.
  • Do not try to walk, swim, or play in flood water. You may not be able to determine if there are holes or submerged debris, or how quickly the water is flowing, and you may be swept away. If water is moving swiftly, as little as 6 inches of water can knock you off of your feet! There is also a danger of hazardous materials polluting the water. Also remember that water is an electrical conductor. If there are power lines down, there is a possibility of electrocution.

Turn Around – Don’t Drown


A flash flood is the number one weather-related killer in the United States.

Pay attention to barricades.

If officials have set up barricades to stop you from driving down a road during a flash flood, don’t ignore them by driving past them.

Do not drive through standing water on roads or in parking lots.

The average automobile can be swept off the road in 12 inches of moving water. Additionally, roads covered by water are prone to collapse. If you attempt to drive through water, you may stall your engine. And this can cause irreparable damage to your car and you will not be able to restart the engine.

If you come upon a flooded street, take an alternate route.

Take extra precautions if you’re forced to drive through water.

Only take these steps if you have no other option.

  • Estimate the depth of the water in a flash flood.
  • Drive slowly and steadily through the water.
  • Avoid driving in water at all if you see downed electrical or power lines.
  • Watch for items traveling downstream — they can trap or crush you if you’re in their path.
  • Before entering the water, test your brakes to see if they are wet and slipping. Dry them first by pressing gently on the brake pedal with your left foot while maintaining speed with your right foot.
  • Stay alert. Stay off your cell phone unless you must report severe injuries.
  • If your vehicle stalls in the deep water, you may need to restart the engine to make it to safety. Keep in mind that restarting may cause irreparable damage to the engine.
  • If you can’t restart your vehicle and you become trapped in rising water, immediately abandon it for higher ground. Try to open the door or roll down the window to get out of the vehicle.
  • If you are unable to get out safely, call 911 or get the attention of a passerby or someone standing on higher ground so that they may call for help.

This spring, stay safe when strong rains come and bring potentially dangerous flash floods.

R.F. Wittmeyer

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