Tom Kerr writing on vehicle safety…

Hurricane season has barely begun…yet it has already taken dozens of lives while wreaking havoc. Meanwhile, multiple threats in the form of newly – developing tropical storms are queuing-up on weather maps in the Atlantic.

At times like these, vehicle preparedness is every bit as important as securing your home…whether you’re fleeing to higher ground or just trying to get back to your loved ones to shelter in place.

I’ve been caught by flash floods on the coast, in the lowlands, and at higher mountain elevations. If that’s ever happened to you, you know how easy it can be, during a storm, to encounter an unexpected flooded roadway.

Please don’t try to beat nature at its own game, even if you drive a capable pickup truck or SUV. The CDC reports that most flood-related deaths happen when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood water. They use the catchphrase “turn around, don’t drown,” and it’s wise to heed their advice.

A cubic yard of water – about the same amount as would fit into the cabin of a car – weighs about 2,000 pounds. When water beneath a vehicle is high enough to just touch the undercarriage, all that weight and strength can easily float it. Cars are airtight compartments with big rubber tires…making them exceptionally buoyant.

Once your tires lose contact with the road, you cannot steer or brake. Drive over even shallow moving water and your vehicle can become a rudderless, uncontrollable boat…sinking as the weight of the engine pulls you nose-first underwater.

Once under, the pressure of all those pounds of water against the doors makes them virtually impossible to open.

Protect yourself by never driving through or across flowing water, which can instantly sweep your vehicle away.

If you do need to extricate yourself or someone else trapped inside a vehicle, it can be much harder than you think.

Automotive glass is tempered and durable. I got caught in a hailstorm that dented every metal surface of the car I was driving, but those huge hailstones didn’t leave a scratch on the glass. Forget the windshield as an escape hatch. That glass has layers of plastic embedded in it and will be nearly impossible to break open.

But…you can shatter a side window.

Hit it sharply, with a hard, pointy metal object that concentrates the force in one spot. A special carbide-tipped rescue tool…which includes a blade for slicing through seatbelts…is the tool of choice for many emergency workers.

Or just improvise.

Yank the headrest out of the top of the seat and use the long metal prongs that protrude from it to smash out the window.

The center of the window is the hardest to shatter, so instead strike the edges and corners. Break the window, scramble out, and seek safety.

On the advice of a veteran firefighter who has done many real-life automobile extrications, I carry a stubby Phillips head screwdriver in my vehicle, within easy reach. I may never have to use it…but knowing it’s there provides a valuable level of comfort and reassuring confidence.

That’s because, when you do a little proactive planning, you don’t have to live with fear or worry that you’ll panic and not know what to do when an emergency strikes.

Instead of getting myself into situations where I am totally unprepared – and have to resort to vandalizing my own vehicle – I prefer to save my tools for fun and constructive DIY projects.

Don’t take chances when the odds are dangerously tilted against you. Get home safely to your loved ones…in a way that doesn’t require you to break a window.

P.S. Discover how you can enjoy a more laidback, authentic, independent way of life in Truth & Plenty. Sign up below to have it delivered – free of charge – to your email inbox.

Image: ©iStock.com/shaunl

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