VICSES volunteers see spike in floodwater rescues

VICSES volunteers see spike in floodwater rescues

28/09/2022, 3:54 PM

Following several recent calls from trapped drivers stuck in floodwater, Victoria State Emergency Service (VICSES) volunteers are reminding the public of the dangers associated with driving in floodwater. Already this year, volunteers have responded to over 23 calls for help, in relation to vehicles stuck in floodwater.

From just the northwest of the state, VICSES volunteers responded to three calls in the past 24 hours in relation to vehicles trapped in floodwater, including:

  • VICSES Bendigo Unit responded to an incident at Axe Creek, involving a single driver stuck in floodwater at 10.30pm;
  • VICSES Marong Unit responded to an incident at Raywood, involving a driver and five children, at 9.10am;
  • VICSES Wedderburn Unit responded to an incident at Wedderburn, involving a driver and four passengers trapped in floodwater at 9:25am.

Driving on flooded roads is dangerous. Do not overestimate the capability of your vehicle. It can take just 15cm for a small car to float, and 45cm for large vehicle.

As we approach a high-risk season ahead with flood potential increased, it’s vital that Victorians understand the life-threatening risks associated with floodwater.

Driving a motor vehicle into floodwater is the single biggest cause of flood deaths during Australian floods. During the period 2001-2017 there were “96 vehicle-related flood fatalities in 74 separate incidents in Australia” (source: Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre).

Flash flooding, caused by heavy rain, can happen at any time and is often made worse by blocked drains, burst water mains or toppling creeks and rivers. The floodwater flowing in front of you, may even have already have torn open the surface of the road.

Rescuing stranded motorists, from floodwater, puts our VICSES volunteer crews and other responders at risk. Flood rescues are dangerous and complex situations, taking priority over every other call for help we receive, given the potential risk to life.

The effort of this means our volunteers delay in answering other calls for help: assisting with flooded premises, building damage or downed trees over buildings, roads, and driveways.

As your vehicle floats on the surface of the water, you are vulnerable to collision with debris. Your airbags may go off suddenly. Electrically-powered windows and locks, once disabled, making your vehicle nearly impossible to escape. Even if they are unlocked, as the weight of water bears down on the body of your vehicle, you may not be able to open your doors.

As we anticipate a wetter than average spring, it’s imperative you take this advice: never play, enter or drive through floodwater. The risk to all is too great and may cost you your life.

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