After devastating the Bahamas and sideswiping the Atlantic coast, Hurricane Dorian has moved away from the United States. Now businesses in the hurricane path must navigate a host of hazards as they return to work. If your business has one or more vehicles, use the below tips to drive safely in the conditions after Hurricane Dorian.
Document for Insurance
Before using any vehicle, check it thoroughly for signs of damage. If found, take pictures of the damage and the surrounding context. Many insurance claims will be rolling in after Dorian, so sending your claim to your insurance company with thorough visual documentation will help ensure it is processed in a timely fashion.
Never Start a Wet Engine
If a vehicle was parked in a flooded area, take it to a mechanic. Trying to start the vehicle while the engine is wet could cause extreme damage to the engine’s most critical parts: the pistons, cylinder head, valves, crankshaft, engine block, etc. Avoid a costly engine rebuild by never, ever starting a wet engine.
Drive Around Standing Water
As appealing as it is to drive through a puddle, after a hurricane, that puddle could be a safety hazard. Remember that debris can be carried for long distances and roads can become badly damaged. An otherwise clear road could be hiding sharp debris or deep potholes underneath standing water. If you can, drive around standing water. If you can’t drive around, get out of the car and investigate before driving into the unknown.
You may think that the water looks shallow, but looks can be deceiving. If the water is even six inches deep, driving through is very dangerous. Consider these three facts from Liberty Mutual:
- A vehicle can lose control or stall in just six inches of water
- One foot of water will float many vehicles
- Two feet of rushing water will carry away most cars, trucks, and SUVs
Be Suspicious of Road Debris
Just as a puddle might be hiding a pothole, leaves could be covering a tire-puncturing nail. This is why drivers have a higher likelihood of puncturing a tire right after a storm. Drive around road debris, or take the time to clear the road before driving through. In case of a flat, be sure you pack an emergency kit and a charged cellphone in every vehicle.
Dry Your Brakes after Driving Through Puddles
In post-hurricane conditions, reaction times are critical. However, when brakes are wet, they may take longer to slow your vehicle. After driving through a puddle, lightly apply your breaks to dry them.
Don’t Drive Under Fallen Trees
If a fallen tree is suspended across the road, there is no safe way to drive under it. It is impossible to know if the tree’s position is secure, and it is not worth the risk. Time to turn around and plot another route.
Drive Slowly (Even if You’re Running Behind)
Chances are your business had to slow or stop on-the-road operations due to the hurricane. That may mean that drivers feel pressure to make up time. Impress upon every driver that safety and caution should be their top priorities in post-hurricane conditions. In order to assess possible obstacles and safety hazards, drivers should slow down and stay alert.