Our View: ‘Turn around. Don’t drown.’

Published 8:57 am Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The official beginning of the fall seasons has brought with it an onslaught of heavy rain and thunderstorms, which are expected to continue today but ease up by the end of the week.

We can expect more rain as early as Monday, though.

With the recent heavy rains and flooding, there have been numerous stories from Central Kentucky about drownings, vehicles being swept away from flooded roadways and more.

Some stories have been more tragic than others, but all serve as reminders that flooding can be incredibly dangerous and warrant some precautions.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, each year, more deaths occur because of flooding than any other hazard related to thunderstorms. The most common flood deaths occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood water.

The CDC warns against driving into flooded areas and standing water because as little as six inches of water can cause you to lose control of your vehicle.

Clark County Emergency Management Director Gary Epperson is known for warning, “Turn around. Don’t drown.” This is also the motto for the National Weather Service.

The NWS reports that, on average, nearly 100 people drown every year in floods, and more than half are caused by motorists trying to drive through flooded roads. The next highest percentage of flood-related deaths is due to walking into or near flood waters.

Of these drownings, many are preventable, but too many people continue to drive around the barriers that warn you the road is flooded.

Many drivers over estimate their ability to drive on flooded roads, often believing “heavy” vehicles will not be pulled away by floods, the NWS reports.

“In reality, most motorists lose control of their vehicles, including SUVs, in just six inches of water, while 18 to 24 inches of moving water will force a vehicle off the road,” according to NWS. “Moving water is very powerful and can undermine the integrity of the road.”

Epperson previously told The Sun that beside the danger of being swept away with the currents, water standing on roadways leaves drivers unaware of what they are driving into.

With even a few inches of water, drivers would be unable to tell if the road is still in tact, he said.

Here are a few other helpful tips from the NWS:

— If flooding occurs, get to higher ground.

— Avoid roads already flooded.

— If heavy rain is forecast, move your vehicles away from areas prone to flooding.

— Be especially cautious when driving at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.

— Pay attention to signage warning of water on roadways.

— Sign up for alerts via email or text about flooding in the area. Clark County 911 offers updates regularly about weather, road closures and more.