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Emergency mgmt. officials issue flood awareness tips

Each year, flooding causes more deaths than any other weather hazard. Most of these drownings could be prevented — if people better understood the force and power of rushing floodwater, according to emergency management officials.

The safety advice they offer, especially for the type of localized flooding seen in Franklin County during or after heavy downfalls, in a nutshell is: “When you see flood waters ahead: turn around — don’t drown.”

More than half of all flood-related drownings occur when vehicles are swept away because their drivers attempted to travel through flood water, according to FEMA. Many drive around flood barriers because they mistakenly believe their 3,000-pound vehicle is so heavy it will stay in contact with the road surface. But all vehicles, including ships, can float because of buoyancy.

In fact:

∎ Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars, causing loss of control and possible stalling.

∎ A foot of water will float many vehicles.

∎ Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles, including sport utility vehicles and pickups.

∎ The next highest percentage of flood-related deaths occurs when people try to walk through or walk too close to flood waters. It may be hard to believe, but it’s true that as little as 6 inches of fast-moving flood water can knock over an adult.

If you come to an area that is covered with flood water, you will not know the depth of the water or the condition of the ground under the water. Road beds may be washed out under flood waters. Never drive through flooded roadways. Whether driving or walking, any time you come to a flooded area, turn around, experts warn.

This is true always but even more so at night, when your vision is limited, they note.

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