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What to do if your car is caught in a flood


Hundreds of vehicles must have been damaged due to the flood that took over different parts of Lagos on Friday.

If the cars are partially or fully submerged in floodwater and owners don’t have the right type of car insurance, they could be stuck with costly repair bills or, worse, a total loss of the vehicle.

Though flood is the most common of all weather-related natural disasters, there are ways to avoid the damage it causes vehicles. It is important to know what to do to avoid the damage, as the 2021 Annual Flood Outlook had predicted more flooding to be experienced in 13 out of the 20 local government areas in Lagos.

Here’s what you can do if your car is caught in a flood

  • Avoid flooded areas: If you see water on the road, turn around. It can be much deeper than it looks. The most common flood deaths happen when vehicles are driven into floodwater. Flash floods are considered the most dangerous type of floods because of their speed and destructive power. They can happen within minutes of rainfall and with little warning.
  • Leave your car immediately and seek higher ground.
  • If your car is swept into the water and submerged, try not to panic. Stay calm and wait for the car to fill with water. Once the car is full, you’ll be able to open a door. (The water pressure needs to be equalized between the outside and inside of the car for the door to open.) Hold your breath and swim to the surface.
  • If you are swept into fast-moving floodwater when you’re not in a vehicle, point your feet downstream. Always try to go over obstacles, like tree branches in the water, never under them.
  • If you’re stranded on an object above the floodwater, like a building or tree, stay where you are and wait for rescue. Do not go into the floodwater.
  • Attempt to get to your car only when the floodwaters have receded and it is safe to do so. If necessary, have your car towed to higher ground.
  • Do not attempt to start a flooded car. If there is water in the engine, you could cause even more damage.
  • Use a wet/dry vacuum to remove any standing water.
  • Use towels to absorb water that may have soaked into the seats and cushions.
  • Use dehumidifiers and fans, if possible.
  • File a claim with your auto insurance company.


Please note that as little as 6 inches of water can cause you to lose control of your vehicle, so don’t struggle with the flood.

Higher water will be even more dangerous. That’s because your tires can act as a flotation device in shallow water. For instance, two feet of water is enough to float a 3,000-pound car (a 2019 Honda Civic Sedan weighs about 2,762 lbs).


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