Driving your car through water when it rains can be dangerous for road users. Specialists from the National Directorate of Civil Protection in Senegal share with us some practical advice that can save us.
When it rains, the water can flow at exponential rates, washing away everything in their path.
If this finds you in your vehicle, it could be dangerous for you to stay there.
The rain recorded on Friday, August 5 in Dakar made this a perfect illustration.
Among the dead listed in the Senegalese capital, a man drowned in his vehicle in the flooded tunnel in the western Corniche.
Alexandre Gomis, 32, got out of his car unharmed the first time, according to witnesses, when water began to fill the cornice tunnel.
But unfortunately, when he returned to collect some papers in his vehicle, report testimony, he was swept away and engulfed by the fury of the water.
Another driver will have been luckier.
Although he was injured when he got out of his vehicle, he was rescued.
He was greeted at the nearby Egyptian embassy, where he received first aid and was subsequently transferred to hospital.
To avoid further tragedies in the future, the Directorate of Civil Protection in Senegal, through Chief Warrant Officer Ismaila Fall, shared a document on what to do when his car is taken into the water.
Tips for drivers
When a car is in a deep body of water, the civil protection department explains, its total immersion is unlikely. In this case, you must react quickly. Here are the most important steps to getting out of an underwater car.
1 – Stay calm and focused
“When you are in a sinking car, the most important thing is not to panic so as not to waste time, and a car takes between 30 seconds and a minute to find itself completely under water,” explains the DPC, which depends on the ministry of the interior.
“So you have to be efficient and precise. A good knowledge of the actions to be performed can help. Due to stress, for example, some people will forget to fasten their seat belt, even though it’s the first thing they should do”, the document continues.
2 – If your car is still on the surface
In this case, the DPC advises to keep your cool…
“You are alone in the vehicle, the situation can be dealt with very quickly. After breakage, try to get out of the window as long as it is still out of the water,” she advises.
… And especially not to open your door.
“Above all, try not to open the door, the water would rush into the car and make it sink much faster. The most important thing then is to get out of the water and be safe from danger”.
“If the car is already sinking and the window opening system no longer works (you should always try, even the electrical systems must work for another ten minutes after submersion), or the pressure of the water blocks the mechanism, you will have to break the window to escape”.
But how should it be done?
“First, you need to unfasten your seat belt. Then to break the window, it is best to use a blunt object. Some forward-thinking drivers will have a special hammer handy in their car, like the ones you can find in school buses”, emphasizes the DPC.
“Otherwise, the metal bars at the bottom of the headrest will do,” she continues.
“The weak points of a window are located in the corners and near the edges. It will be more difficult to break it by hitting the middle. If the car is completely filled with water and the glass is resistant, then it is possible to break it. it’ open the door’, explains the Directorate for Civil Protection.
4 – How should other passengers be handled?
If you are traveling with other people in your vehicle, you must also help them.
“Obviously, if other passengers are present in the car, the driver must make every effort to help them get out,” says the DPC.
“Again, you always have to unfasten your own seat belt to be more free to move than the other passengers’,” she says.
Subsequently, “breaking a rear window may be more relevant as the car tends to sink from the front”, due to the weight of the engine.
5 – The three steps to remember
DPC invites us to remember a few important points: “the belt, the window and the exit”.
“It’s useless trying to break the windshield, it’s designed to be more resilient,” she recalls.
“Calling 911 before getting out of the car is a bad idea and would waste too much time,” she warns.
But “when you’re out of the water”, she advises, “you must call 18 and react as you would any traffic accident”.
But in addition to the human casualties, flooding can have damaging consequences for the vehicles themselves.
A mechanic explains to us how to preserve the engine of his vehicle.
The engine of a submerged vehicle can be damaged very quickly.
This is what mechanic Joe A. Sagna tells us, whose garage is located in Fass in Dakar, the Senegalese capital.
“When it rains, if the water reaches a certain level, you risk damaging your vehicle by driving in the water,” says Sagna.
There are only a few types of cars, such as Toyota, Mitsubishi, Nissan or Jeep, that can cross waters without major risk.
However, they may encounter some difficulties at a certain water level. They can actually, he says, soak up water in many cases.
According to him, it is better to park your vehicle when it rains so as not to lose it.
“There are a number of small cars that are best parked when it rains because they sit very low and their engines are not strong,” he says.
Better yet, “if the water reaches their intake system, it’s over,” warns Joe Sagna.