The Philippines as many already know is a tropical country, which means that we face weather extremes such as sudden bursts of heavy rain, tropical storms, and high heat regularly. In cases of heavy rainfall, chances are many Filipino drivers will encounter a flooded street or two along their way home to work. This gets especially worse if the heavy rain coincides with bumper-to-bumper traffic along with public transportation woes.
With that in mind, and in case you find yourself driving in a downpour and the streets suddenly turned into outdoor pools, here are some safety tips for you to remember before taking the plunge.
Try to avoid flooded roads
No matter what you drive, an SUV or a subcompact hatch, it is wise to avoid passing through flooded roads. The reason for this is that you never know what lies underneath the water surface (open manholes, roadworks, deep potholes, etc.). With this, finding an alternate route is your best option, or better yet, stay in a safe place and wait for the flood to subside.
If you want to press on, then you can use your favorite navigation application such as Waze or Google maps to find your alternate route around the flood. These applications may even help you find other flooded streets and may even redirect you around them to get you to where you need to go.
Driving through floods
If you have no other choice but to drive through a flood, you will first need to figure out the depth of the flood before you charge right on in. Whether you’re driving a sedan, van, or SUV, if the water level exceeds the wheel's center cap, DO NOT go for it and turn back or wait it out. Look at sidewalks, posts, or any surrounding structures that will help you gauge the flood’s depth or watch another vehicle goes through.
In case water is low enough, put it in 1st gear (or low gear if it’s an automatic transmission) and maintain a steady speed somewhere around 5 to 10 km/h. Make sure there's enough distance between the vehicle ahead and do not shift gears.
If you stall the engine, do not restart it. Get out of the car and push it to safety if possible.
Dry the brakes
After going through water, dry the brakes by gently stepping on the pedal while driving slowly. Wet brakes lack stopping power and can get you in trouble. Stepping on the brakes will also help remove a bit of the dirt and debris your rotors might have picked up while driving through the flood. In any case, it's still best to drive carefully after traveling through a flood.
Check, clean, and change
If you really want to be on the safe side after traveling through a flood, then you can have your car checked by a mechanic or service center. If water seeped into the exhaust pipe or the engine, the fluids and some parts may have to be replaced. It would be advisable to have the whole car washed and even the underbody. This could save you from shelling out thousands of pesos for major repairs later on.
Driving through flooded areas requires extra caution and serious consideration. Making the wrong choice could lead to costly vehicle repairs or a total loss. We hope these safety tips help you during a downpour.