By Chief Warrant Officer 3 James J. McDevitt, Missouri Army National GuardMay 30, 2019
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (May 30, 2019) - I remember it like it was yesterday -- the day I nearly killed myself and my best friend while driving to a favorite turkey-hunting spot.
We worked for a concrete construction company that usually gave us the day off during bad weather. On this particular day during the height of Missouri's turkey season, it was pouring rain. We were anticipating the boss letting us off for the day and were eager to be released so we could go hunting. After about 15 minutes, we received the word: "No work today."
We always prepared for these moments, especially during any hunting season, and had all the necessary equipment ready for an expeditious move out. We jumped into my Toyota Tacoma pickup and took off like a shot. It was getting close to daylight, so we were in somewhat of a hurry to beat the turkeys off the roost. We wanted to be set up in position before the turkeys flew down out of the trees where they'd spent the night. This was a crucial time because it set the pace and gave either the hunter or the hunted the upper hand. Once the male, or "Tom" turkey, gets together with a hen, it's tough to call him to you because he already has what he wants.
On our way to the hunting spot, we crossed a bridge over a very swollen creek. We were amazed at how high the water was compared to normal. We traversed this road often, so we knew the water was sure to be just as amazing farther ahead at the low-water crossing. Little did we know! So we pressed on.
When we arrived, it was unbelievable -- like something out of the movie Deliverance. I hesitated as I eased the front tires into the water. As I did, I thought about how the hunting spot was only 100 meters on the other side and how long it would take to go around. I had an attitude and said, "Screw it, I can make it!" and drove a little farther, testing the depth as we went. My friend, who typically taunted others to go for it -- especially when it wasn't his vehicle -- didn't say a word.
We were now more than halfway across the rushing water, which was three-quarters the way up my door. At that point we were committed; there was no turning back. We had almost made it across when the truck began shifting and sliding with the rushing water. My friend nervously said, "Dude, hit the gas!" I barked back, "Dude, I've got it floored!" However, the truck couldn't move any faster because the rear tires were floating. Fortunately, at the last possible moment, the tires grabbed and we made it to the other side. We both let out a sigh of relief and my friend said, "Holy crap, dude! We made it, but don't ever do that again!" We made up our minds to take the long way home and to never to try crossing high water again.
The point of this story is to avoid having a "Screw it, I can make it!" attitude toward taking needless risks. Life is too short and too many people care about you to afford that kind of attitude. Conduct at least a mental risk assessment on everything you do -- even the things you do in your normal, daily life. And remember to watch out whenever somebody with a cocky attitude says, "Screw it, I can make it!" That means someone is about to get hurt or killed. Try not to be that someone.
Turn Around, Don't Drown
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
Each year, more deaths occur due to flooding than from any other thunderstorm-related hazard. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that more than half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood water. The next highest percentage of flood-related deaths is due to walking into or near flood waters.
People underestimate the force and power of water. Many of the deaths occur in automobiles as they are swept downstream. Of these drownings, many are preventable, but too many people continue to drive around the barriers that warn that a road is flooded. A mere 6 inches of fast-moving flood water can knock over an adult. It takes just 12 inches of rushing water to carry away a small car, while 2 feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles. It is never safe to drive or walk into flood waters.
Why do vehicles float? They float for the same reason an aircraft carrier floats -- buoyancy!
Where does this idea that "my heavy vehicle will keep me safe" come from? It comes from the false trust in the weight of the vehicle you are driving. Many believe their 3,000-pound or more vehicle will remain in contact with the road surface and that it is too heavy to float. Think about that for a moment. Aircraft carriers weighing 97,000 tons float.
Vehicles, including ships, float because of buoyancy. In fact, most cars can be swept away in 18-24 inches of moving water. Trucks and SUVs do not fare much better with an additional 6-12 inches of clearance.
Source: National Weather Service Office of Climate, Water and Weather Services
Did You Know?
Nearly half of all flash flood fatalities are auto related.
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