Flooding can happen any time thanks to rain, blocked drains, burst water mains, tides and burst river banks.
You’ll probably hear warnings of sea or river-related flooding from the Environment Agency, or on the news, but surface water flooding from heavy rain or drains that can’t cope is harder to predict and can be very localised.
If you hear there’s flooding on the way, move your car to higher ground to stop it getting damaged. Water plays havoc with electrics and can even cause airbags to go off suddenly some time later.
- Turn your headlights on – the Highway Code says you must use them when visibility is seriously reduced (less than 100m).
- Use fog lights if you like, but switch them off when visibility improves.
- Leave twice as much space between you and the car in front – it takes longer to stop in the wet.
- If your steering feels light due to aquaplaning, ease off the accelerator and slow down gradually.
- If you break down don’t prop the bonnet open while you wait. Rain-soaked electrics can make it harder to start the engine.
Floods and standing water
- Try to avoid standing water if you can.
- Don’t drive into flood water that’s moving or more than 10cm (4 inches) deep.Let approaching cars pass first.
- Drive slowly and steadily so you don’t make a bow wave.
- Test your brakes as soon as you can afterwards.
- Fast-moving water is very powerful – take care or your car could be swept away.
What to watch out for
- Look out for slip and trip hazards like kerbs under the water.
- Manhole covers can get lifted and moved.
- Water levels can change quickly.
- Assume that flood water is contaminated:
- Urban flood water can carry dangerous bacteria from drains and sewers that could cause disease.
- Rural flood water is more likely to be contaminated by agricultural chemicals and animal waste.