A word of caution about FLOOD CARS…

A word of caution about cars that have been affected by flood waters.

I am an independent insurance adjuster. For many years my job has taken me into places after natural disasters like hurricanes. I have worked with hundreds if not thousands of automobiles which have been in flood waters. Flood vehicles are dangerous for a lot of reasons, here are just a few.

  1. Electrical issues. One common issue I have seen with flood cars is the electrics. Lights will come on, the radio will play by itself, or the wipers to come on by themselves. All of these can happen without the switch being turned on or even the key in the car. It happens because flood water is not just water, it carries salt, dirt, grime, and filth that can get into the electrical circuits and leave residue which can cause a short between posts that would otherwise never have contact. Modern cars have a ton of electrical contacts, sometimes too many to effectively clean, so flood cars can end up being total losses.
  2. Sewage. Yes, sewage. Whether by storm surge or rain fall, too much water falls and overwhelms the drainage systems and floods happen. Where ever you are in a flood, look around… every building you can see has a bathroom. None of that is designed to be under water. All of that sewage is now in your car. No you don’t want to think about this, but you have to for your own safety. You just have to realize that this water is rising everywhere. It runs across highways and roads, businesses, and homes. If your car gets into flood water, there can be sewage in your carpet and the sound proofing underneath. It will then grow mold in places you can’t see and cause you to get sick. All that stuff has to come out in order for the car to be safe for use again.
  3. Salt. A hurricane sucks water into itself from the ocean. Clouds do not desalinate ocean water, (meaning take the salt out of it) so that salt water falls inland where it would otherwise not have been before. No it is not pure ocean water, but the salt content is higher than your typical rain shower. This is a hurricane. Now you have what is called “brackish” water further inland. This salt water ruins electrical equipment.
  4. Airbags. Just like I was talking about before, the filth from flood water causes major electrical issues with your car. One of the major safety issues are the airbags. Airbags which have been exposed to flood water have the potential of detonating at any time. Have you ever seen that silly movie where they hide an airbag under Seth Rogan’s chair and it blows him into the ceiling? Well that is obviously a stupid movie but the impact is not far off. Air bags exposed to salt water, much like the lights on a flood car can easily just switch on. In the junk yard after a hurricane it is common to walk around and just hear radios playing, or car alarms going off. It is also not uncommon to have an air bag detonate by themselves, with no interaction. An airbag can hurt you.

How can you keep safe in the aftermath of a large storm?

  1. Do not try to operate vehicles that have been in water deep enough to make the seat wet. There are electrics mounted all over modern cars at seat level that once exposed to flood water can make the car unsafe. Contact your insurance company to file a claim, or have the car looked at by a qualified technician who can make repairs to the car, or advise you further about your particular vehicle.
  2. Stay out of flood areas until authorities say it is safe to return.
  3. Keep yourself as clean as possible by washing your hands, using hand sanitizers often. It is a good idea that once flood debris is cleaned up, to throw out any clothes you wore while doing so as they are probably now contaminated.
  4. Remember that germs and diseases can live everywhere after the flood waters subside for quite a long while. Stay clean.
  5. Consult with your insurance professionals about your policy details with regard to your home and auto and repairs which will have to take place.
  6. Be patient. Yeah, it sucks. The storm hit everyone you can see from your home too. We are all in this together. As bad as it is for you, someone else has it worse. Lives were lost during this storm and those people had families. A car or a building is small potatoes compared to a life.

Stay safe everyone.

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