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With the flood water moving in and affecting the lives of millions of people in Thailand and the region, and with climate change proponents predicting more of the same in the years ahead, it might be wise to have some plans in place to protect your transportation.
Here are some practical ways to avoid flood damage to your car.
On the road
First here are some things to consider when you are travelling in a car during a flood.
1. Don't be a hero!
First and foremost, don't take unnecessary risks. If you are approaching a flooded road, the best option might be to turn back and try to find another way, or just go back and abandon the journey. It doesn't matter how good your car is, or how great a driver you are, driving on flooded roads is dangerous and you need to consider the risks before you proceed.
2. Plan ahead
Before setting out try to do as much fact finding as you can. Avoid flooded roads if possible. Know your vehicle. Check the location of the air intake for the engine. You will want to be sure that the water doesn't enter here.
3. Drive slowly, but keep the revs up
If you have no choice but to brave the water it is important to drive slowly, while maintaining engine revs. This will help prevent the car from stalling, while also preventing water from getting into the exhaust pipe. Usually the water will be deeper to the sides of the road, so try to drive in the centre, or where the water appears to be shallowest.
4. Stay alert!
I know it goes without saying, and you should always be alert when driving in any conditions. But driving on flooded roads requires extra attention. Sometimes pavements/islands and other road features are not visible, and it makes navigation difficult. If the roads have been flooded for some time, there may be damage to the road surface that is not visible for the same reasons. It is sometimes best to follow another vehicle at a distance and observe their path and follow their track.
5. Know when to quit
If there is a surge and your car is being inundated, it might be best to abandon ship. And a car is just a car. Life is more important.
Protect your car
Many people in Bangkok are taking extraordinary steps to protect their cars from the surge of water, ranging from adding plastic pipes to their cars to double parking on an elevated highway. But what should you to to protect your car?
1. Park safely
Obviously, the best way to protect your car is to park it somewhere that it will be safe from the flood. If your residential parking space is in a flood prone area it is best to seek out a space at one of the many multi-storey car parks which are currently providing spaces for this purpose. However, at time of writing, most of these are already full.
Parking on a flyover bridge, or an elevated road is an option that many have adopted. This is not without its share of risk however, and you should think carefully before going down this route. There is a high risk of theft, as there will not be any security for cars parked in this way.
2. Raise it up!
If you really can't find safe and high ground to park you vehicle, you might consider raising it up to a safe height. This can be done safely using the standard car jack that came with your vehicle, and suitable concrete blocks. If in doubt get help from somebody capable.
3. Check with your insurance company
This is something simple that will be a big help in the event that your car does suffer water damage from flooding. Call your insurance provider and ask for clarification of your cover. They might have some advice for you too. For example, a friend of mine with first-class insurance was advised to disconnect the battery and block the exhaust pipe, and was assured that the insurance would cover everything.
4. Don't be a hero
If your car is in trouble, don't risk your own safety or the safety of anybody else trying to protect your car. It is just a machine, and it is replaceable. Also, while flood water might cause some damage to your car, it will most likely be salvageable.
5. Don't modify the car!
If you have a vehicle with a raised air intake and all the extras that make it suitable for traversing rivers, that's great. But modifying your car in a knee-jerk fashion by attaching plastic sheets in front of the radiator, or strapping waste pipe to the exhaust will probably cause more harm than good.
Vehicle manufactures do test their cars, and they are able to cope with some flooding. Home-brew solutions will most likely fail in adding to the performance of your vehicle.
Keep safe and God bless.