Pharos-Tribune

April 19, 2013

OUR VIEW: Play it safe with standing water


Pharos-Tribune

— We’ve had our fair share of rain lately. So much so, they’ve issued a flood warning for our area. And if the weatherman is right, we’re getting more today. That won’t help the situation any.

Thursday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service, our rivers weren’t pushing flood levels just yet. The Eel was hovering just over the 6-foot mark, and the Wabash was inching closer to the 9-foot mark. They don’t hit the flood stage until 9 and 15 feet, respectively.

And while the rivers might be holding their ground, that doesn’t mean there won’t be plenty of standing water. With this much rain, there’s no way sewers and drains can cope with the demand and the ground is too saturated to lend a helping hand. So the overflow ends up standing in the roadway.

And every spring, we see law enforcement’s warnings about not driving through standing water go ignored. In fact, we just received one of those warnings today: Flash floods can come rapidly and unexpectedly, state police warned.

Just 6 inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars. This depth can cause loss of control or possible stalling if water is sucked into the exhaust or washes into the air intake.

When the water reaches as little as a foot deep, wheels can lose their grip on the road and cause you to lose control of your vehicle.

Two feet of flowing water can sweep away most vehicles.

Do we tell you this to scare you? Eh, maybe. If we do, it’s because we know most people don’t see the threats of standing water as real, having that “It’ll never happen to me” mentality. It’s that mentality that tells them it’s OK to head through that standing water. And while more often than not, nothing goes wrong, you’d hate to the exception to the rule.

But now if you talk about a threat to their wallet, people are apt to pay a little more attention.

So, let’s talk about your wallet.

Even if you walk away unscathed, your car will likely not be so lucky. If water gets into your engine, it can cause severe damage — severe enough that it might require your engine to be stripped down and repaired. If that sounds expensive, it should.

So, like law enforcement says every year, don’t drive through standing water.