What to Do When Caught in Flooding

AutoTrader NZ
Published 2 March 2023

Floods can be dangerous and unpredictable, posing significant risks to both people and vehicles. In New Zealand, where rainfall and flooding events are not uncommon, it’s essential to know how to react if you find yourself caught in floodwaters, whether you’re in an urban or rural setting. This blog post will provide practical guidance to help you stay safe during flood situations in your car.

Assess the Situation

The first step when encountering floodwaters in your car is to assess the situation. Take note of the following factors:

  • The depth of the water
  • The speed of the water flow
  • Whether the water is rising or receding
  • If there are any hazards in the water, such as debris

Should You Drive Through Water?

It is generally advised not to drive through floodwaters in any circumstances. Even shallow water can create significant hazards and cause your vehicle to stall or float away. Instead, follow these guidelines:

  1. Avoid entering flooded areas altogether if possible.
  2. Seek alternative routes and higher ground to stay clear of flood-prone areas.
  3. Listen to local authorities and emergency services for guidance and updates.

All Exits Blocked? When to Leave the Car and Walk?

If all exits are blocked and you find yourself in a situation where leaving your car becomes necessary, make sure to:

  • Turn off the engine and take the keys with you.
  • Roll down the windows before the water level reaches them to ensure an escape route.
  • Exit through the window and move to higher ground.
  • Do not attempt to walk through fast-flowing water as it can be dangerous.

When to Claim Insurance?

If your vehicle has been damaged by flooding, you should consider filing an insurance claim. Contact your insurance provider as soon as possible to report the incident and initiate the claim process. Take photographs of the damage to support your claim, and provide any necessary documentation requested by your insurance company.

Additional Tips for Urban and Rural Settings

Urban Settings

In urban areas, where drainage systems are usually in place, floods can still occur. Here are some additional tips to keep in mind:

  • Avoid parking your vehicle in low-lying areas or near rivers and streams.
  • Pay attention to local weather forecasts and flood warnings.
  • If you spot flooded roads or areas, report them to the appropriate authorities.
  • Be cautious of manhole covers potentially coming off drains due to the water pressure. Avoid driving or walking over them if possible.

For up-to-date weather information, visit the MetService website.

Stay informed about emergency alerts and guidance by visiting the Civil Defence website.

Rural Settings

In rural areas, where flooding can be more common, consider the following:

  • Be aware of the flood-prone areas and avoid driving through them during heavy rainfall.
  • Take extra caution when crossing small bridges or causeways, as they can be easily overwhelmed by flooding.
  • If you live in a flood-prone rural area, have an emergency kit and a plan in place for evacuation.

By being prepared and taking the necessary precautions, you can greatly reduce the risks associated with driving in flood conditions. Stay informed, stay safe, and prioritize your well-being and the safety of others when faced with flood situations.