By Sergeant Scott Reak
With all of this rain our area has experienced over the past few days, and being solidly within hurricane season, it’s hard to overlook the possibility of flooded roads. Even considering the extensive engineering roadways are constructed with, heavy rains can often overload the drainage that’s in place. Road closures, as a result of flooding, become common when the rain has nowhere to go. Being extra vigilant during these periods of storms can mean the difference in having a pair of wet shoes or swimming to high ground.
Avoid driving through the flood waters. As most Florida drivers know, it only takes a little water to affect the handling of your vehicle. A smaller vehicle can be swept off the road in about 12 inches of moving water, with 2 feet of water being capable of carrying away most vehicles. Vehicles that are caught in moving water, are almost always carried away to deeper water. If for some reason your vehicle begins to sink underwater, abandon ship. Your car won’t swim, but you can.
Stop for barricades. Find another route. Luckily for you someone else has already tested the depths of the water ahead. Most likely the end result was less than desirable, forcing the road closure. The barricade wasn’t set up for fun, or to inconvenience you; It’s there solely to keep you out of danger. Learn from someone else’s mistake and choose an alternative route.
Alert the Sheriff’s Office if you observe a flooded area. We can send personnel to evaluate the situation.
If you plan on disregarding the first few points, consider the following:
Hidden obstacles. Ask yourself: What’s in the water ahead? Are there any obstructions laying beneath the water surface? An open storm drain or a tree branch? Hopefully the road ahead is still intact. If you can’t tell, turn around.
Downed power lines. The same reason we don’t use hair driers in the bath or shower, is the same reason we don’t want to drive through water with a live wire in it: electric shock. The current in a typical residential power line can easily kill a person. Water, due to its impurities, is an efficient conductor of electricity. Add the fact that water can easily surround you, and you can easily see how dangerous this situation can become.
Your vehicle may stall while crossing pooled water. You’ve gone too far and didn’t make it. A vehicle’s ignition should not get wet, and will easily shut down if exposed to water. It is highly unlikely that your vehicle will re-start until “dried out.” Deep water may also cause your engine to hydrostatic lock, or hydrolock for short. Hydrolocking is one of the most damaging events your engine could experience. Essentially your engine is full of water, prohibiting the moving parts from moving. This happens when the engine air intake draws in water. It will not restart. If that sounds bad, you’d be right. Unless of course you’ve been looking for a reason to get a replacement engine.
It’s not good for your vehicle over the long term. Even if the water doesn’t damage the engine or enter the cabin, water penetrates bearings, flushing the grease away, and can also compromise electrical, power steering, emissions and brake components. Salt water is especially damaging.
The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office wishes to protect our citizens and visitors to the best of our ability. Please allow us to keep you and your families safe during times of inclement weather. Use good judgment, be careful and stay dry.