Know the dangers

All Queenslanders should be aware of the dangers connected to floodwater or swift flowing water. No one can predict what lies underneath the surface.

The second you decide to push through floodwater, you will give up control. Firefighters across the state rescue more people from water each year than they do from fires.

Click the icons to get the lowdown on the hidden dangers.

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What type of driver are you?

Research shows almost half of Queensland drivers say they would never attempt to drive through floodwater, which is very reassuring. About 20 per cent have thought about it, but not done it. Unfortunately, nearly 30 per cent have driven into floodwater, putting not just their own lives at risk, but the lives of their rescuers.

Of those who have driven in floodwater, 40 per cent are under 25 years, nearly two-thirds are male and a large proportion drive 4WDs.

Floodwater does not discriminate, so no matter who you are or what you drive, always be prepared and avoid entering floodwater.

Big or small? Size does NOT matter!

Any flooded road can be deadly and the size of your vehicle does not matter. You might think your 4WD will make a difference. But you can't see what's under the surface.

The road underneath could have collapsed, or there might be a surge coming out of the blue. Your tyres or underbody might just be on the correct angle for the swirling water to catch them and cause havoc.

Any amount of water can float a vehicle away, no matter what you drive. Once your car starts floating, there is nothing you can do. Rising water can also enter your car in seconds to disable electric windows and locks or stall your engine.

Slow down and take care when it’s wet

Road Subject to Flooding signs are erected near known flood hotspots. They warn drivers the road ahead may be flooded, so drivers should proceed with caution.

In dark or rainy conditions, it can be difficult to spot the difference between a wet road and a flooded road, especially when coming around a corner or down a dip.

Always drive to conditions and do not expect every flooded road to have a warning sign.

Help drivers understand what the water is doing

Depth Indicators show the depth of water above the normal road surface. This can help drivers track if the water is rising or falling, so they can plan whether to wait or take the long way around by taking an alternative route.

Remember, depth indicators cannot detect washouts or potholes in the road surface, nor do they indicate the force of the water, so don’t assume it is safe to drive through any level of floodwater.

Keep an emergency kit in your car so everyone is comfortable while waiting for the water to fall.

Are you or someone else in difficulty?

If you become stranded in fast rising water, stay calm and call Triple Zero (000) or if there are people around, signal others to call for your rescue. If you are caught in a vehicle, please stay there until help arrives. Don't enter the water if it can be avoided and stop others from entering it. Even rescue officers will only enter the water as a last resort.

If you see someone in difficulty, please monitor the person and report to the emergency services. Listen to what the emergency authorities say and follow their instructions. If you have to assist the person, do so with extreme caution and do not enter the water. If possible, use a long tree branch, rope or similar tools to reach the person, however take extreme care, as fast flowing water can force the person being rescued by rope further under the water. Never tie a rope to the person being rescued or yourself.

Rescuers might take a long time to reach you, so be patient.

General dangers during a flood event

Floodwater is notoriously unpredictable. What looks safe can quickly escalate into dangerous conditions. A seemingly calm surface can mask a fast moving powerful body of water below. Even if you know the road like the back of your hand, you cannot predict what flowing water will do or what’s happened underneath.

Water can contain large debris, sharp objects and poisons or sewerage, not to mention the odd crocodile or snake.

Floodwater can also rise, fall or surge very quickly. Flooding can be caused by sudden torrential rain, prolonged rain, flood plain flow, high tides and storm surge.

More than half of flood-related deaths are the result of driving through floodwaters, so don't risk it.

Road conditions can be deceiving

How a road is affected by flooding is not visible until the road dries out completely. The reality is that the damage might not even become apparent until the road is in use again.

During a flood, the culverts and drainage systems under the road may become clogged with debris causing sudden surges of water or structural damage. Once the waters subside, engineers and technical staff will inspect the affected roads.

Hear from the experts & witnesses

The best lessons come from experience. Listen to stories from floodwater experts and survivors to find out just how important it is to be prepared.

If It’s Flooded, Forget It – Back it Up 2020

Alison’s Story