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Fire service advice on driving in heavy rain

They had to rescue a man from a van near Axminster last night

Storm Diana may only just be arriving, but Devon's Fire Service has already rescued one driver. A van drove into fast flowing water between Honiton and Axminster last night and got stuck. The driver had mild hypothermia. Now Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue has issued advice on how to drive in heavy rain as we expect more of it over the next 24 hours. They've warned that just 30cm of moving water can float your car and an eggcup of water going into your engine is enough to wreck it.

Community Safety Manager, Alan Gilson, of Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service, said: “In periods of heavy rain, roads can become very slippery and, if the rain persists, flooded. Flood water can be deceptively powerful, it can literally rip up the road surface dislodging manhole covers and kerbstones. Its depth and flow rate can quickly change with the weather."

Top tips to help stay safe include: 

  • Plan your route; consider that some roads are likely to be more vulnerable to flooding and high winds than others. Consider potential alternative routes, should your first choice be blocked.
  • Try to stick to main routes; allow plenty of time for your journey, and allow for possible hold-ups.
  • Check your tyres. Tread depth should be at least 1.6mm across 75% of the width of the tyre for its entire circumference. Ensure that tyres are inflated to the recommended pressure.
  • Check lights and wipers to ensure that they are working properly.
  • Clean windscreens, windows and mirrors.
  • Check weather forecasts, your route may be blocked.
  • Test your brakes to ensure that they are working properly. 
  • Check your emergency kit – ensure you are prepared. You should have an ice scraper, de-icer, clothes, warning triangle, a torch, blanket, warm clothes, food and drink, a first-aid kit and a map.
  • Make sure someone else knows where you are going and which route you intend to take.
  • Ensure your mobile phone is fully charged, so that you are able to quickly raise the alarm if you need to.

Driving in high winds

  • Watch out for crosswinds.
  • Drivers should take care when driving on exposed routes such as bridges or high open roads, and are advised to find alternative routes where possible.
  • Slow down and be aware of side-winds. Be alert for any debris which may have been blown onto the road.
  • Be prepared for sudden gusts at any time, as these can catch out even the most experienced driver.
  • Be alert for sudden gusts when passing bridges, gaps in hedges or when overtaking high-sided vehicles.

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