In the 2005 deluge horror stories emerged of how people perished in their vehicles once they got caught in the flood. So yesterday when the skies opened up and dumped over 300mm of rain on Mumbai, most motorists feared a similar situation. Today the rains are expected to lash the city again, and with high tide expected, things could get tough. Despite all warnings people have ventured out, especially to their places of work. Now if you get stuck you're going to expect the authorities to come help you, and they'd love to tell you 'we told you so'. But just in case things go from bad to worse, here are 5 tips that should help you stay safe.
1. If you're in a jam and you notice the water level rising, don't wait for it to get into your car. The instant you see it rising, know that the water level is going to rise even further. If it gets above the level of your bumper, prudence dictates that you vacate the spot instantly, leaving your car parked securely at the side of the road. If the water level has risen above your bumper chances are that its also risen above the level of your exhaust pipe. If you try and drive your car through that, you may unwittingly suck water through the exhaust pipe in to the engine.
2. Try and stay in the extreme right lanes on a straight road, most roads slope towards the shoulders to drain water in flood situations. Water will collect in large and deep pools near the shoulders. On most right-handed corners, the camber is focused towards the inside lanes for safety, but this forces water to accumulate in the right lane. Take the case of the sweeping corner near the airport in Mumbai, heading south to north, water always accumulates on the top lane.
3. If you absolutely have to drive your car through a flooded area, keep the revs steady. You don't have to keep them high, just keep it steady, anywhere above 1800rpm is good enough for you to get traction and keep . If you blip the throttle hard and your exhaust is underwater, you might just damage the engine.
4. Keep a heavy flashlight handy in your glove compartment, always. Does not matter if it's the monsoon or not. Worst case scenario, you can always use it to batter the window glass and break through.
5. The best way to get out of a stuck car is through the windshield, just in case you are stuck in your car and the windows and locks have stopped working. Here is what you do. Get into the passenger seat, raise your feet to the windshield and kick it out using both feet. The windshield is very simply glued to the car with a waterproof silicon based glue. This can easily be removed by placing a firm kick anywhere near the edge of the windscreen. In most cases you won't even damage your windscreen, and it can be put back on soon as you get your car to a service station. So don't discard it.
6. If you're venturing out in the rains, you know there may be a chance that you'd get stuck, then keep some emergency snacks and at least a bottle of drinking water in the car. And store them in a large waterproof zip lock bag. You can also use your zip lock bag to store your valuables like your wallet and watch if you have to walk in the rain.