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Colorado Springs Fire Department offers advice for drivers in flash floods

Car rescue prompts lessons in flood water safety

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Colorado Springs Fire Department offered advice to drivers Saturday after its crews rescued two people from their submerged car Friday night.

The fire department's heavy rescue team was called in to rescue a driver and passenger from their car Friday night.

"The car was almost completely submerged," said Lt. Aaron McConnellogue, with Colorado Springs Fire Department. "It started coming over on top of the car so there is no way they would have been able to exit on their own."

McConnellogue said people underestimate the power of water in a flash flood. He says 2 feet of water will float most cars away.

He said the best way to stay safe is to keep an eye on local weather forecasts and weather warnings. He said drivers need to stay alert to street signs indicating flood zone dangers when they're driving in heavy rains.

He walked through the necessary steps to take if your car is trapped in a flash flood.

"If we have water rushing in the vehicle here, the first thing we will want you to do is roll down a window on the opposite side. As soon as the water rises up and gets into the electrical system, it shorts out the vehicle's electrical, you're not going to be able to roll down the window," said McConnellogue.

He recommended keeping a tool designed to break a window in your vehicle. He said the water's force can make it impossible to open a door or break a window.

He said call 911 immediately. Do not try to swim to safety. There is a way the rescue team wants you to sit in your car as you wait for help.

"We want you to weight the high side, meaning have the passengers sit on the high side of the vehicle, (the side the water is rushing) because the force of the water can have the ability to flip the vehicle over," said McConnellogue.

He recommends waiting for the water to settle. If the car starts to float, stay in the car and ride it out.

If water starts to flood the inside of the car, climb to the roof. Stay on the roof as long as possible.

"If you have to get off the vehicle, we want you to actually jump clear of the vehicle, preferably off to the sides, we don't want you to jump where the water is going to pin you against the vehicle."

Be cognizant of moving debris if you're in the water. Keep you feet up and avoid obstacles like trees and floating debris.

LMcConnellogue emphasized how dangerous swift-water rescues can be for victims and rescue crews. He said half of all deaths in swift-water rescue missions are rescuers.

If you see someone trapped in their car, do not go into the water.  Call 911 immediately.  Tell the operator the person in the water is being swept downstream and that swift-water rescue teams need to respond.  Give the operator the most accurate description of their location possible.

Do not try to pull the victim out with your hands, a rope or similar device. Also, do not attach anything to yourself and toss it to the victim in the water because you will be pulled in by the current.

If possible, throw them a floatation device like a boogie board, Styrofoam ice chest, or basketball.



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