Safety Vault Information Service

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The number one weather-related killer in the United States is flooding, taking 139 lives annually. Since 1982, Ohio has averaged five deaths per year due to flooding. Flooding deaths often occur as people try to drive through flooded roads and become trapped or swept away in the rushing waters.

On January 28, 1994, in Lake County, Ohio, four school children and their bus driver were rescued from a bus that was stalled in rising water. Situations such as this are avoidable. When schools develop their severe weather emergency plans, they must consider the potential dangers to children and drivers of school buses. According to the Ohio Emergency Management Agency, here are some guidelines for school bus drivers regarding floods.

Never attempt to drive through flood waters. If your route takes you across small streams and creeks or along a river, you need to have either an alternate route to travel or a contingency return route if flood waters are encountered. Major river flooding and coastal flooding generally are well forecast with warnings issued early enough that drivers can plan their strategy prior to starting out. Flash flooding, which is a sudden and dramatic rise in water levels leading to flood conditions does not lend much warning time. Drivers need to understand what to do and what not to do.

A shallow ponding of water on the roadway is usually not a problem, but as soon as the depth of the water comes into question, particularly in cases where the road may have been undermined, drivers should not enter. Do not enter underpasses that filling with water. If the water appears to be flowing (moving across the road), do not enter the water. Water levels can rise rapidly, and the force of that water against an automobile, even a truck can be amazingly powerful. If you are caught in an unavoidable situation, seek higher ground immediately. If the vehicle stalls, and the water is rising, abandon and seek higher ground before the situation worsens.

How can a foot or two of water cost you your life? According to the National Weather Service, here’s how: