Dangers of flood water & How to drive safely through floods


Posted by: Henry Egan

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Even areas with well-planned drainage systems can still experience flooding if high intensity rainfall persists for long. The raging water then spills over, flooding roads and bridges, creating a risk for cars plying those roads

As we begin to experience higher volume rainfall, we expect flooding to be more common across the country. Only recently, NiMet warned of a real risk of flood across some states due to rises sea level and they rainy season will only increase the risk factor. It thus becomes pertinent to highlight the risks that come with flooding especially when driving through such flooded roads.

Usually, high intensity rainfall running to say 30 millimeter within an hour will most likely result in flooding, with the intensity of such flood depending on the topography of the area. For stable land with high housing concentration that utilizes drainages to manage water flow, such areas will experience flooding when the drainages cannot handle the volume of water generated by the rain. Even areas with well-planned drainage systems can still experience flooding if high intensity rainfall persists for long. The raging water then spills over, flooding roads and bridges, creating a risk for cars plying those roads.

That's why Naijauto brings here the road safety tips when driving in the flooding season! But let's equip yourself with sufficient knowledge about flood water first!

1. Facts about Flood Water

The following facts will give you better knowledge, as well as help you decide if its worth it to drop through a flooded road;

  • There is always a real danger that exists whereever there is moving water.

You should know that moving water no matter the volume applies considerable pressure to any surface it comes in contact with, resulting high stress concentration that might cause collapse in the case of roads. In the case of cars, the is a real danger of this pressure raising a car and making it float in the flood water.

  • There is a real risk of hydroplaning occur on marginally flooded roads.

Water levels as low as half a foot or 0.6 inches is enough to cause any type of car to hydroplane. Hydroplaning or aquaplaning occurs when a layer of water builds up between your car tires and the road, causing your car to skim on the water. In this situation, there is a complete loss of traction between the cars tire and the road and might result in your car spinning dangerously out of control over the road. See a video below showing the dangers of aquaplaning;

>>> Besides low-quality drainage system, check out other Reasons why Lagos traffic is chaotic when it rains!

The dangers of aquaplaning fail

  • A very high chance of a car floating exists where water more than 2 foot or 24 inches deep flows through a road.

Most small cars can easily float in just 12 inch or 1 foot of water, while bigger cars will most likely will float in water deeper than 2 feet. If your car floats, there is avery high chance that you will be swept along by the racing flood water  

  • There also a very high chance of engine stalling occurring if the flood water finds it way into your car’s engine.

This could happen if water enters your carburetor or fuel injector, thereby stalling your engine. This might result in serious and sometimes lasting damage to your car engine.

>>> Read this carefully for your own safety! Never use the cruise control in the rain. You are seriously risking your safety

2. Safety Tips for Navigating through Flood

The most important safety advice we at Naijauto give during flooding is that motorist completely avoid flooded roads.

Flooded roads pose numerous dangers that should be avoided at all cost, so rather than take the risk, consider other alternative routes or stay where you are if it’s safer there. Get constant safety updates from all available sources and constantly re-evaluate your safety with respect to your current position.

  • Remember aquaplaning is a real danger even in less flooded roads. To avoid hydroplaning, take your foot off the accelerator and reduce your speed to around 30 mph only. Avoid hard braking as well as sharp turning. You are highly recommended to follow the tracks of vehicles ahead of you to make sure that's the safe way to go.
  • If you are left with no choice other than to navigate a flooded road, please be sure to correctly estimate the depth of the water flooding the road. You can easily tell the detail if you are familiar with the road. 
  • When driving into flood water, try to do this at low speed say 3-5 km/h and then gradually increase your speed to say 7 km/h. Maintain this speed steady as you navigate through the water. If you are driving a manual transmission car, stay in gear 1, do not change gear as this short shift time may be enough to let water flow into your exhaust pipe. Rather, maintain a high revve until you completely clear the flooded road.
  • Do not accelerate through the water as this poses a number of risks. First, you double the chances of letting water into your engine through the front bonnet, and if this happens your engine might stall and you will be in bigger trouble. Secondly, speeding will usually generate a huge splash wave behind you and will thus endanger other drivers behind you as visibility will be reduced.

>>> See as Flood ravages VP Yemi Osinbajo’s Estate: Tractors are used to "rescue" residents!


Muddy sections of the road can trap your car and leave you stranded

  • Always try to stay at the middle. Look out for road signs and road barricades, as this will give you easy clues to stay in the middle away from the roads shoulder.
  • If the road is untarred, it will be best you avoid it completely. But if you will have to use it, please follow the tracks of previous cars and try to avoid the muddy sections of the road to avoid your car getting trapped.
  • Please look out for floating obstacles like trees and other big objects, as these might trap your car and expose you to much bigger danger of drowning.
  • If your engine stalls, do not try to restart it, as this will serious and even permanently damage your cars engine.

>>> Here's for your reference: 10 most flooded areas on Lagos Island drivers should avoid in rainy season

  • In a situation where your engine stalls and you are left stranded, it’s important that you remain calm. If it's possible, step out of the car slowly after confirming it is safe to do so. Then carefully make it to dry land or a higher ground.
  • If the previous step is not possible, it will be better to stay in your car, while you call for help. If waters your car and the level is rising rapidly, it will be safe to climb on the roof of your car and stay there while you call and wait for help.

8 essential rules while driving through flood areas

Finally, we still advise that you turn around and utilize alternative routes when a road is flooded or you remain where it’s safe.

>>> Feel free to come back and read more safety tips and advice on Naijauto.com.

Henry Egan

Henry Egan


Henry Egan a poet, essayist, content writer, blogger and technical writer who is willing to read just that last material to develop the best content possible. Henry feels he is more of a new generation writer with a sassy and swanky style. You can be sure you'll get all the facts in and never get bored with his articles.

He has got a flair for technical reviews on automobile and cars. He studied Mechanical Engineering but his first love remains Literary Art.

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