If it's flooded, forget it

If it's flooded, forget it

Video file
Video file

Your car can’t protect you from floodwater

Our weather can change quickly and be unforgiving. Here in Queensland driving into floodwater is the number one cause of flood-related deaths. Cars are designed to keep us safe on the road but once you hit water, it becomes a completely different story.  It doesn't matter what car you drive, or how good you are at driving - as soon as you enter floodwater, your car can’t protect you.

If it's flooded, forget it.

ON THIS PAGE: Driving in floodwater - facts vs fiction | Plan ahead | Vehicle flood safety kit

Watch Your car can't protect you from floodwater. If it's flooded, forget it. on YouTube.

In floodwater your car’s features can fail

We often think that our car can protect us from all weather conditions but, even in shallow floodwater, your car’s steering, engine and electrics can stop working, making it extremely difficult to escape.

steering wheel
Completely powerless steering
No matter your experience, or what car you drive, once you enter floodwater you can lose control.
car dashboard
Failed electrics throughout
It doesn’t take much water to ruin your car’s motor and electrics.
car in floodwater
Zero traction control
It can take as little as 15cm of water for a car to lose traction on the road and be swept away in floodwater.
car windows
Disabled doors and windows
The pressure of floodwater can stop you opening doors and windows.

Driving in floodwater - facts vs fiction

Floodwater can make even the most familiar roads dangerous. Find out what's fact and what's fiction before driving.

The Car

"My car can handle it"

  • A car can be swept away in as little as 15cm of water.
  • Water and electrics don’t mix. Your car’s windows and doors can quickly stop working in floodwater. Don’t risk getting stuck inside your car.
  • Modern materials and sound reducing seals mean newer cars are lightweight and more buoyant making it easier for them to float or be swept away.  
  • A well fitted out 4WD with a snorkel can handle some tough conditions, but flooded roads are in a category of their own. The normal precautions aren’t enough.
  • The ‘wading depth’ listed in your car’s manual is designed for still or low speed currents. They don't consider the many dangers of floodwater. It's not worth the risk.
SUV stuck in floodwater with rescuers approaching

The Driver

"I'd never drive through floodwater."

  • Driving into floodwater can happen accidentally. 
  • Flash flooding is unpredictable, and powerful. 
  • While 12% of Queenslanders admitted to driving through floodwaters deliberately in the past two years, 15% reported entering floodwaters by accident.
Rain through the windshield of a car

The Driver

Myth: “She’ll be right, I’m a Queenslander!”

  • Every storm and every road is different. Forget about what you’ve done in the past and make sure that you don’t risk your life in the future.
  • Extreme weather is our new normal, even though sometimes warnings can be cancelled. You can be left feeling like you’ve gone out of your way for nothing.  
  • The truth is: being a Queenslander means having a plan to stay safe in severe weather. 
  • We need to plan for the worst and hope for the best, because one day, the storm will happen. 
Cars on a flooded street

The Road

Myth: "I drive these roads all the time."

  • When it comes to flooding, some roads are more dangerous, including low bridges. 
    • 87% of lives lost happened on a creek crossing, bridge or causeway.
    • Half of the fatal crashes happened at night on roads with little or no streetlighting.
    • Almost half happened within just 20km of the driver's home. 
  • Flash flooding can happen anywhere, anytime and there may be no ‘road closed’ sign. 
  • Just because a road hasn’t flooded in the past, doesn’t mean it won’t flood in the future.  Don’t rely on what you’ve seen before. 
Car skidding off the road in floodwater

Here are some tools to help you plan ahead, prepare your car and understand the real risks of floodwater.

Plan ahead

Three quarters of Queenslanders have experienced driving in and around floodwaters in the past two years. The best way to avoid driving in floodwater is to be prepared. Check if flooding is likely, plan ahead and make alternative arrangements so you are not driving on flooded roads.

Disaster dashboard
Signing up for weather notifications on your smartphone can help you to make safer decisions when things change. Make sure you’re covered for places you regularly visit so you can sort out the school pickup, work from home or reschedule that bushwalk.
Road Closed sign
QLD Traffic provides state-wide information on road conditions, including incidents and hazards, closures and restrictions, roadworks and special events. You can also check out flood cameras and real-time traffic imagery.
Local councils are the first point of call Queenslanders should turn to for information during a flood. Storm, flood, and cyclone warnings will be found on your local council’s platforms like disaster dashboards, social channels and opt-in messaging system if they have one. Find your local disaster information here. You can also go to disaster.qld.gov.au/warnings and listen to local radio for all warnings.
Rescue worker holding a disaster plan
Prepare for bad weather now, not in the moment. The safest option is usually to wait it out, so have a back-up plan. For example: who can pick up the kids if you get stuck at work?
flooded street
Most summer storms are over within an hour. It’s usually safer to wait until the storm stops before driving. Re-think your need to travel and put your safety first. For example: Do you really need to pop to the shops?
road signs
It’s dangerous to drive on flooded roads, causeways, creek crossings and unsealed roads. Take note of warning signs and flood depth indicators on roads you normally use, as these will likely flood in the future.
Person packing dry clothes
Packing a few items now can be a lifesaver later. Some should be kept where the driver can reach them, while others can be stored safely in the back for when you need to pull over and wait until it is safe to drive again.

Hear from the experts

Hear expert advice and firsthand accounts from those who are on the frontline of flood safety in Queensland.

Watch Matt Roser, Fire and Rescue Service Station Officer and  Swift Water Rescue technician for QFES on YouTube.
Watch Reduced risk perception behind the wheel on YouTube.

Vehicle flood safety kit

Here are some potentially life saving items to have in the car. Some items should be kept where the driver can reach them, while others can be stored safely in the back for when you need to pull over and wait until it is safe to travel again.

Emergency essentials 

The safest choice is to avoid the risk of floodwater completely, however an emergency hammer, waterproof torch and foil blanket can help if you get stuck or trapped in your vehicle. They should be kept where the driver can reach them. If your windows stop working, breaking them is almost impossible without a vehicle emergency hammer.  

Person putting an emergency kit in the glovebox

Also keep in the boot

Keeping your vehicle emergency kit in the boot will mean you are prepared for the unexpected.

First aid kit
First aid kit
Bottled water
Bottled water and long-life food
In case you have to stay put until it is safe to move.
Torches and batteries
Torch and spare batteries
Tow rope and hitch
Tow rope
Person packing dry clothes
Blanket and tarpaulin
To help keep warm and dry in case windows have been damaged.
Toilet paper
Toilet paper
Assorted tools
Including the basics to help you fix any simple issues like, duct tape, screwdrivers, hammer and bungee straps.