Flooded Roadways and Vehicle Water Rescue Safety Tips
Staying Safe in Pools, Rivers, and Lakes


Flooded Roadways and Vehicle Water Rescue Safety Tips

Drive Aware

  • Pre-plan your trip by knowing what type of weather conditions you may be traveling in.  If possible, plan your routes on familiar, well lit, and improved roadways. 

  • Allow for extra travel time; don’t be in a hurry to get where you are going.

  • Plan alternative routes to your destination; there may be a safer way to get where you need to go.

  • Keep your cell-phone or other media devices fully charged prior to travel, this may be your only source of information or communication.

  • Keep others informed about your time of departure, route of travel and expected time of arrival.

Arrive Alive

  1. First and foremost Turn Around Don’t Drown®!  Avoid ALL flooded roadways, and do not drive around barricades at Low Water Crossings regardless of how shallow or slow moving the surface water may appear to be flowing. Water covering a roadway may be hiding a washed out bridge or road bed…you may not be driving on an improved road!

  2. Should you find yourself in a low-lying area during a flood, get to higher ground quickly. Avoid canyons, washes or ditches that can channel swift water.

  3. If your car is stranded in swift moving water, don’t panic, stay calm and dial 911.  Roll the window down on the downstream side (opposite side of the direction of water flow) of the vehicle and remain with your vehicle until help arrives. 

  4. If your car fills with water exit your vehicle through a sun roof or through the open window on the downstream side and remain in place on top of your vehicle.

  5. If you are swept into fast moving floodwater outside of your car, place yourself in a Defensive Swim position, by floating on your back with your head up and chin on your chest and swimming with your feet pointing downstream.  This allows you to kick away and maneuver yourself around debris with your legs prior to striking them. 

  6. In your Defensive Swim Position, always maneuver yourself around or over obstacles.

  7. If you become stranded on something above the floodwater, e.g. car, tree, building, etc…stay put and wait for rescue. Do not enter or re-enter the floodwater.

  8. When help arrives, stay calm and follow the directions of the rescue team.

Staying Safe in Pools, Rivers, and Lakes

Summer is in full effect and water activities are a great way to cool down and have fun. Water activities come with safety concerns and water enthusiasts should take precautionary measures to keep themselves and loved ones out of danger. The most severe and most feared water emergency is drowning. Drowning may not always look like someone in obvious distress. It can be fast and silent with very little splashing, waving, or yelling. Respond quickly when you notice someone displaying the following uncontrolled signs:

  • Head low in the water, mouth at water level

  • Head tilted back with mouth open

  • Eyes glassy and empty, unable to focus

  • No response when you ask if they’re ‘OK’

  • Eyes closed

  • Hair over forehead or eyes

  • Not using legs – Vertical

  • Hyperventilating or gasping

  • Trying to swim in a particular direction but not making progress

  • Trying to roll over on the back

  • Appear to be climbing an invisible ladder

For more water safety tips and drowning prevention information, visit https://www.colinshope.org/

General Water Safety Tips

Here are some general water safety tips to get you and your loved ones through another summer of fun in the water:

  • Never swim alone.

  • Never, ever leave children unattended.

  • Maintain constant supervision of children and inexperienced swimmers.

  • Assign a “Water Guardian” to watch children who are in, near, or around water.

  • If a child is missing, check the water first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.

  • Inexperienced swimmers should wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket.

  • Stay hydrated!  Just like any other physical activity, you sweat when you swim and need to drink water regularly.

  • Wear sunblock of at least SPF 15 and reapply frequently.

  • Immediately get out of the water when you see lightning or hear thunder.

  • Stay sober!  Refrain from consuming alcoholic beverages.  Inebriation can significantly impair your ability to swim or assist others in danger.

Swimming Pools and Open Bodies of Water

There are additional precautionary measures one should take that are specific to this type of body of water.  Water enthusiasts should be aware of the different safety hazards and prepare accordingly.

Swimming Pools

In addition to the above safety tips, observe the following safety tips specific to swimming pools:

  • Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards and always obey pool rules.

  • Be aware of depth markers before jumping or diving in.

  • NO running in the pool area.

  • Only dive off the diving board, never off the side. Also ensure the landing area is clear of other swimmers before diving in.

  • Keep pool area secure with appropriate barriers/fences when not in use.

  • Have appropriate, easily accessible rescue equipment

  • Consider a lightning detection alert system for your pool.

*The American Red Cross recommends enrollment in home pool safety, water safety, first aid and CPR/AED courses to learn how to prevent and respond to emergencies.

Lakes, Rivers, and Other Open Bodies of Water

There are some special considerations to be taken when swimming in open bodies of water as swimmers often have to share the lake with wildlife, boaters and other recreational water vehicles.  In addition to the above safety tips, observe the following safety tips specific to open bodies of water:

  • Know your location and, if on a boat, be able to give a description of the boat you are on in case of an emergency.

  • Know how many people are in your group and perform periodic headcounts to ensure all guests are accounted for.

  • If someone is missing, know where the person was last seen and what he/she was wearing.

  • Protect your feet from jagged rocks, broken glass or other sharp objects by wearing water shoes.

  • Carbon Monoxide (CO) Emissions – Boaters should refrain from idling the motor for extended periods of time.  Swimmers should stay away from exhaust vent areas and avoid swimming near or under the swim platform or back deck. Carbon monoxide is colorless, odorless and tasteless.  The CO emitted from boating traffic can pose a serious threat to boaters and swimmers.  Early symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, nausea, weakness, irritated eyes, and dizziness.  These symptoms are often confused with intoxication or motion sickness. 

  • Bacteria - Refrain from swimming after flooding or heavy rains.  Unlike swimming pools, natural waters are not chlorinated or disinfected. The risk of bacterial infection increases after heavy rains due to hazardous matter washing into the lakes and streams. 

  • Water Depth Visibility – Do not jump or dive into the water if you are uncertain of the depth of the water.  It can be difficult to determine how deep the water is and jumping into shallow water can cause serious injury or death.

  • Reptiles, Insects and other Critters – Stay away from wildlife.  Swimmers share the water with many animals, reptiles, insects and other critters.  The number of occupants increases after heavy rains and flooding.  It is best to refrain from swimming in lakes and rivers after major rains and flooding.