Firefighters warn of floodwater dangers as recent incident figures emerge

Crews are sharing the important reminder after they performed 33 rescues from vehicles in water between 2012 and 2021.

With winter weather on the way, recent thunderstorms have proved a reminder that flooding continues to affect those living and working in AF&RS' area (Bath and North East Somerset, North Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire). Country lanes and low-lying ground are often worst affected, and what looks like a shallow puddle can hold untold dangers within.

Seán Heighton, Station Manager at AF&RS said: “The effects of floodwater can be very serious and entering what looks okay from the surface can have very expensive or even dangerous results.

“Finding another route may be frustrating, but being on time isn’t worth taking a risk. If you encounter floodwater on the road, do not attempt to drive through it, even if it looks shallow.”

AF&RS acknowledge that many people don’t realise how detrimental water can be to a vehicle.  Seán added: “Even seemingly shallow water can reach a vehicles engine, suck water up and cause the car to stall and break down. This is particularly dangerous when on a country road or driving at night, where you may not be able to call for help.

“Remember, even in relatively shallow water, a strong current can knock over a person or even pick up a car. Not all flood water is still.”

AF&RS advice for floodwater on the road:

  • If you see a flooded road ahead, turn around and find an alternative route.
  • Water on the road can be deeper than you think, so don’t try and continue through floodwater.
  • If you can’t go another way, get to higher ground and wait for waters to subside.
  • If your car becomes affected by water, consider if safe to get out and if you can, climb to higher ground.
  • If you drive through any puddle of a significant size, test your brakes as soon as it’s safe to do so.
  • In an emergency, always call 999.

You can also take further precautions by making sure you’re prepared for adverse weather whilst driving. AF&RS suggest creating an ‘emergency kit’ filled with things such as a torch, warm/waterproof clothing, bottled water and a first aid kit to name a few. Having these items can help to keep you safe whilst waiting for emergency services to arrive.

For further advice on staying safe this winter, visit the AF&RS website and look at the seasonal safety page.

Pictured: AF&RS crews training alongside Coastguard and Avon and Somerset Search and Rescue (ASSAR) colleagues.