Take our quick quiz to determine your safety in a vehicle during an emergency:
1) A tornado is closing in on you while you are driving. Which is best to do?
a) Drive as fast as possible to the nearest overpass or bridge to ride out the storm.
b) Seek safe shelter immediately on the lowest level of a sturdy building.
c) Drive the car into a deep ditch so the tornado can safely pass overhead.
d) Pull over to the side of the road and wait.
2) It’s snowing outside, and a big pileup on the highway has just occurred. Your vehicle is involved. You are inside your car. What should you immediately do?
a) Get out and offer help to others around you, then call your insurance company.
b) Get out immediately, wait on the shoulder of the road, and call 911.
c) Remain in your vehicle with your seatbelt on, turn on hazard lights, then call 911.
d) Get out of your vehicle and take videos of the accident for insurance purposes.
3) You are approaching a flooded roadway. What should you do?
a) Try to guess how deep the water is. If less than a foot, drive through it.
b) Watch what happens to other vehicles who try to cross it, then do what they do.
c) Drive fast to displace the water under the vehicle to prevent the engine from stalling.
d) Turn your vehicle around and do not attempt to cross.
Now, let’s see how well you did. Here are the correct answers with explanations:
Question 1 – the correct answer is B. Give yourself a big pat on the back if you got this one right. A vehicle is not the safest place to be during a tornado. While it’s possible to drive away from a funnel cloud that is far off in the distance, one must go at 90-degree angles from its path. Driving away from a funnel cloud in the distance should only be attempted if you can remain at a safe distance, drive at a reasonable speed, if there is no traffic to impede you, and if you are not putting yourself at risk. However, it is generally not safe to try to outdrive a tornado. Not only is traveling at high rates of speed dangerous, but it is likely the funnel cloud can reach you and cause harm. A vehicle is not a safe place to be during tornadoes. The best option is to seek shelter immediately, especially when a tornado is close by, and head to a storm shelter or the lowest level of a sturdy building. Be sure to move away from glass and windows and protect your head. Fast food restaurants and banks are often good shelters because they have freezers and vaults that may provide some protection. Avoid seeking shelter in a mobile home as they are generally not as sturdy as other structures. Do not park your vehicle under a bridge or overpass. Not only will this block roadways, but numerous studies demonstrate that wind intensifies in overpasses and tunnels. If you’re in your car and a funnel cloud is approaching, and you cannot get to a safe shelter, NOAA recommends exiting your vehicle and getting as far away from your car as possible. Then duck and cover in a ditch or a low spot. If you’re stuck in your vehicle and there is no time, keep your seat belt on and put your head down below the windows, covering your head with your hands or a blanket or coat if possible.
Question 2 – Correct answer is C. Congratulate yourself for getting the right answer. First and foremost, always wear your seatbelt when driving, and make sure your passengers are wearing theirs as well. Use caution when visibility is down, slow down, and don’t tailgate. If you are in a pileup, remain calm. While your first instinct might be to exit the vehicle, do not jump out of the car immediately unless the car is on fire. Instead, keep your seatbelt on, turn on your hazards, and call 911. While every situation is different, in general, it is most dangerous to exit the car while other vehicles may still hit you from behind during a chain reaction. So, the general safety rule is to remain in your vehicle unless it’s on fire or until you clearly know it’s safe to exit. If your car is on fire, exit and runs fast away from the flames and toward the front of the initial pileup, away from moving vehicles that can come at you from behind. The shoulder of the road can be a dangerous place to stand as vehicles avoiding the accident tend to veer in that direction. To minimize injuries, do not stand near the accident to create a video and never stand between two cars. And while it’s tempting to want to assist others around you, do not exit your vehicle until it is deemed safe to do so, or you’ll risk becoming a victim as well.
Question 3 – Correct answer is D. If you picked this answer, you are showing your wisdom. The simple answer is do not drive in flooded areas as you and your vehicle can be swept away. Also, it is impossible to know the condition of a flooded road that is underwater. Parts of the road may be washed away, or there may be downed powerlines which can produce electrical currents through the water. It is extremely difficult to gauge how deep water is, and the fact remains that only six inches of water can reach the bottom of most passenger cars. This amount of water can cause loss of control and possible stalling, per weather.gov. There’s a reason for the motto, “Turn around and don’t drown,” which is exactly what people should do when approaching flooded roadways. Don’t gain a false sense of security from watching other fools attempt to cross flooded roadways. In addition, driving fast through water is foolish as it can cause loss of control of the vehicle and/or engine problems, equaling a disaster.
There are many things that people can do to reduce their chances of having weather-related emergencies. This includes paying attention to upcoming forecasts, staying home during poor weather conditions, and knowing what to do in emergency situations. While it’s important to rely on instincts, it is equally important to be familiar with safety rules or suggestions and apply them as needed.
This article is for general informational purposes only and is not intended as direct advice.