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2014 Flood safety awareness week – Turn Around Don't Drown™

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The Grand Rapids Weather Examiner presents the third in a series from the National Weather Service (NWS) on Flood Safety. The week of March 16-22 is National Flood Safety Awareness Week. West Michigan drivers occasionally see their roads covered in water from spring snowmelt or washed out from flash flooding. In 2013 most of the flood fatalities were from people driving. The topic for today is very simple, Turn Around Don’t Drown™ (TADD).

More Photos

From the TADD website here are some answers to common questions.

Why is Turn Around Don't Drown™ So Important?
Each year, more deaths occur due to flooding than from any other severe weather related hazard. The Centers for Disease Control report that over half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood water. The next highest percentage of flood-related deaths is due to walking into or ear flood waters. Why? The main reason is people underestimate the force and power of water. Many of the deaths occur in automobiles as they are swept downstream. Of these drownings, many are preventable, but too many people continue to drive around the barriers that warn you the road is flooded.

What Can I Do to Avoid Getting Caught is This Situation?
Most flood-related deaths and injuries could be avoided if people who come upon areas covered with water followed this simple advice: Turn Around Don't Drown™.

The reason that so many people drown during flooding is because few of them realize the incredible power of water. A mere six inches of fast-moving flood water can knock over an adult. It takes only two feet of rushing water to carry away most vehicles. This includes pickups and SUVs.

If you come to an area that is covered with water, you will not know the depth of the water or the condition of the ground under the water. This is especially true at night, when your vision is more limited.

Play it smart, play it safe. Whether driving or walking, any time you come to a flooded road, TURN AROUND, DON'T DROWN!

Follow these safety rules:
• Monitor the NOAA Weather Radio, or your favorite news source for vital weather related information.
• If flooding occurs, get to higher ground. Get out of areas subject to flooding. This includes dips, low spots, canyons, washes etc.
• Avoid areas already flooded, especially if the water is flowing fast. Do not attempt to cross flowing streams. Turn Around Don't Drown™
• Road beds may be washed out under flood waters. NEVER drive through flooded roadways. Turn Around Don't Drown™
• Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams and washes, particularly during threatening conditions.
• Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.

Turn around; a heavy vehicle will not keep you safe. See the slideshow on the top for a visual description of the forces on vehicles from high water.
From the NOAA's NWS, here’s why you should find another way around a water covered road.

Why do vehicles float?
They float for the same reason a 97,000 ton aircraft carrier floats, buoyancy!
Where does this idea that "my heavy vehicle will keep me safe" come from? It comes from the false trust in the weight of the vehicle you are driving.

Many believe their 3,000 pound or more vehicle will remain in contact with the road surface, that it is too heavy to float. Think about that for a moment. Aircraft carriers weighing 97,000 tons float.

Vehicles, including ships, float because of buoyancy. In fact, most cars can be swept away in 18-24 inches of moving water. Trucks and SUVs do not fare much better with an additional 6-12 inches of clearance.

See the slideshow on the top for more on West Michigan flooding.

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