Turn Around Don’t Drown

Roadway flooding events are coming on Kihei and South Maui because of bad roads and a lack of drainage infrastructure. On the floodplain rainfall and runoff create pools of standing floodwater and sometimes fast-moving floodwater. It is dangerous to cross these flooded areas. Flooding increases the risk of drowning, and also the chance of stalling your vehicle and needing a rescue. 


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that over 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 cars swept downstream. Many of these drownings are preventable. Never drive around the barriers blocking a flooded road.

Jacinta Quesada, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


If you Must cross any standing water it is best to drive Slow, and Avoid flooding your engine. Needing to Drive fast through floodwater is a Myth, that leads to vehicle damage, more stalled vehicles, and many unnecessary rescues. Driving fast through floodwater also creates a Hazard to Pedestrians and damage to neighboring properties.  Drive slowly through slightly flooded areas in the event that you come upon a flooded area consider parking a vehicle on a hill or raised area and calling for help or waiting it out depending on how bad the rain and flooding are. Remember to DRIVE SLOW and be Safe. 


Many of South Maui’s roads do not have sidewalks. So pedestrians are often forced to share the roadway with motor vehicles. This is a huge safety hazard even during dry weather. But when there is water on the roads the danger to pedestrians is increased significantly. Cars speeding through floodwater can send spray and waves outward for a large distance. This can easily swamp a pedestrian, or it could make it extremely difficult to see them, it could even knock them over. Spray thrown up can limit the driver’s vision and block their view of pedestrians. Sometimes local kids like to play in the floodwaters too, and they are at risk from speeding traffic also.  Research studies have revealed that about 40% of flooding-related deaths are caused by the movement of pedestrians and drivers in flooded areas. That means while flooding is a natural occurrence, injuries and accidents related to flooding are often completely avoidable.

Walking next to cars driving through flooded waters can be extremely dangerous for pedestrians due to various reasons:

  1. Limited Visibility: Floodwaters can reduce visibility for both drivers and pedestrians. Walking next to cars in such conditions increases the risk of not being seen by drivers, leading to potential collisions.

  2. Uneven Surfaces: Flooded roads often have uneven surfaces due to debris, potholes, or hidden obstacles underwater. Pedestrians walking next to cars may not be able to see these hazards, increasing the likelihood of tripping or falling.

  3. Strong Currents: Floodwaters can have strong currents, especially in areas with heavy rainfall or flash floods. Walking next to moving vehicles can expose pedestrians to the risk of being swept away by the current.

  4. Hydroplaning Vehicles: Cars driving through flooded areas may experience hydroplaning, where the tires lose contact with the road surface due to water accumulation. Pedestrians walking next to these vehicles may be at risk if the driver loses control.

  5. Electrical Hazards: Flooded roads can pose electrical hazards if submerged power lines or electrical equipment are present. Walking next to cars in such conditions increases the risk of exposure to electrical dangers.

  6. Water Contamination: Floodwaters often carry contaminants, including sewage, chemicals, and debris. Pedestrians walking next to moving cars may be at risk of exposure to contaminated water, leading to health issues.

  7. Stranded Vehicles: Cars driving through flooded areas might become stranded or stuck. Pedestrians walking next to these vehicles may be at risk if the driver attempts to maneuver the car, leading to unexpected movements.

  8. Limited Escape Routes: Flooded roads may limit escape routes for pedestrians. If a dangerous situation arises, such as a sudden rise in water levels or a vehicle malfunction, pedestrians walking next to cars may have limited options for getting to safety.

In summary, pedestrians should avoid walking next to cars in flooded waters to reduce the risk of accidents, injuries, and exposure to various hazards associated with flooded conditions. It is crucial for both drivers and pedestrians to exercise caution and follow safety guidelines during such weather events.

AVOID VEHICULAR EMERGENCIES (According to Survivegroup.org):

  • If you have to drive through a flood try to drive in the highest section of the road if it is safe to do so.
  • Drive slowly and steadily to avoid creating a bow wave.
  • Driving fast through standing water is dangerous – tires lose contact with the road and you lose steering control in what’s known as ‘aquaplaning’. Watch out for standing water, trying to avoid it if you can, and adjust your speed to the conditions. If you do experience aquaplaning, hold the steering wheel lightly and lift off the throttle until the tires regain grip.
  • Driving fast through standing water can cause expensive damage – the air intake on many cars is low down at the front of the engine bay and it only takes a small quantity of water sucked into the engine to cause serious damage. All engines are affected but turbo-charged and diesel engines are most vulnerable.
  • More info at http://www.survivegroup.org/pages/safety-information/floods-and-standing-water