Monday, July 1, 2013

"Turn Around, Don't Drown" - Reposted Monday 7/1

With the extensive flooding in progress and forecast in the East, I am reposting this important safety message. It was originally posted June 1. I urge you to view this video and share it with your friends!!!

Turn Around, Don't Drown has been used by the National Weather Service for years to highlight the #1 danger in flash flooding and the easy way to prevent yourself from becoming a statistic.

As you know, nine 17 (corrected 7/1)were killed by Friday's Oklahoma tornadoes and two from flooding. Storm chaser Chris Novy almost became the third flood victim.


This very brief video shows how quickly things can go from safe to near-fatal. Chris says had his car not buckled and the window broken he never would have been able to get out. I'll let him pick it up in his own words.

Published on Jun 2, 2013
This is a view from my D-TEG dashcam. I approached a flooded road and made a quick U-turn rather than driving [all the way] into the water. This was a naturally smart move. Unfortunately my turn resulted in me plunging off a hidden embankment and splashing nose-first right into a swollen creek where I sunk straight to the bottom, I traveled several hundred feet underwater with the car quickly filling up. At one point I was completely surrounded by water and just holding my breath in the darkness. Somehow the driver-side and passenger-side windows broke and I was flushed from the vehicle. I surfaced after a bit and found myself racing down the creek. A cop called out to me and I was able to swim to him and his life-saving grab.

Analysis:
It probably would have been best for the police car (seen right before my turn) to have completely blocked the road the emergency lights on. As it was, the scene seemed like just a water hazard but probably should have been clearly marked as a no-go zone.

I should have come to a complete stop and taken more time to evaluate the situation. Ideally I should have just put it into reverse and slowly backed out. I took a dangerous situation and made it even worse leaping before I looked.

Lessons learned:
Turn around, don't drown!


Chris also posted this photo on Facebook. Note the too short guardrail. OKC legal department: Tell your public works/road department this needs to be fixed immediately. There would be real liability to the city if this happens again now that the hazard is known.

I also want to make a point that Chris is too polite to make. The police car was useless. Here is a screen capture. I didn't even see the police car the first time I viewed the video.
While his light bar is on, he is making no effort to keep people out of the hazard.

So, in Oklahoma Friday evening, we had the Oklahoma Highway Patrol blocking the way out of the tornado hazard and police not blocking the obvious flood hazard.

I dont want this or the posting below to lead you to the conclusion that I am anti-law enforcement. Quite the contrary, I think they have a difficult job that requires them to make all kinds of decisions quickly. My problem is that police (at least the ones I have spoken with) have no training in extreme weather, radar interpretation, etc. So, all too often, it seems they make the wrong decision because they lack that training. And, there are times when individual officers decide to make a point rather than doing their jobs.

Perhaps it is time to rethink the role of law enforcement in these situations. I am aware of fire department officials in some states who do receive spotter training, who do receive flood training, and training in water rescue. Should it be fire and emergency management responding rather than police? I believe it is a question worth asking.

Thanks, Chris, for making this available. I hope it saves lives and prevents needless property loss. 

11 comments:

  1. I’m impressed, I have to say. Really hardly ever do I encounter a blog that’s both educative and entertaining, and let me inform you, you might have hit the nail on the head. Your idea is outstanding; the problem is something that not sufficient people are speaking intelligently about. I am very joyful that I stumbled across this in my seek for something referring to this.

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  2. I see he blames everything and everyone except himself.

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    Replies
    1. Uh, the driver said that he should have stopped and checked. The blogger and the driver !=the same person.

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  3. At Steven. HUH?? Did you miss this? Looks like he is taking full reponsability for his actions!
    "I should have come to a complete stop and taken more time to evaluate the situation. Ideally I should have just put it into reverse and slowly backed out. I took a dangerous situation and made it even worse leaping before I looked.

    Lessons learned:
    Turn around, don't drown!"

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    Replies
    1. "So, in Oklahoma Friday evening, we had the Oklahoma Highway Patrol blocking the way out of the tornado hazard and police not blocking the obvious flood hazard."
      You are a grown man, use common sense, Do you need someone to tell you not to drive into a storm?? You were the only car on the road.

      "Chris also posted this photo on Facebook. Note the too short guardrail. OKC legal department: Tell your public works/road department this needs to be fixed immediately. There would be real liability to the city if this happens again now that the hazard is known."

      Well if people were not ignorant driving into flooded streets during a tornadic storm it wouldn't be necessary, I bet you are the only one who made such a stupid move.

      Delete
    2. Dude, chill! Maybe he was caught out on his way home from work. Not all of us can be as calculating and brilliant as you must be...

      Delete
  4. Im glad that the outcome wasn't worse then what it was. Also the police or local law enforcement should be educated more either by taking storm spotter classes or a different weather education corse and it being mandatory.

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  5. In defense of the officer, the cars on the opposite side of the road weren't having a problem slowly driving across the hazard. It wasn't until this guy u-turned into the creek that it was an issue. Not to mention, the officer then saved his life. No question, Meteorologists save lives, but 99% of time it's done from the relative comfort of their office. Police officers save lives while they're in danger!

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  6. @AmishElectrician: I want to make it clear again: I am NOT being critical of law enforcement. I'm saying they need to be trained better if they are going to be dispatched to these areas OR we need to start sending fire units who -- in many areas -- are the ones trained about weather.

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    1. trained to do what? Herd storm chasers in the opposite direction of the storm?? Statements and videos like these will lead to legislation making storm chasing illegal. Simple solution..

      If you head toward a storm you do it at your own risk and you alone are to blame for any actions you take while storm chasing.

      Delete
  7. @Mr. Johnson: In at least some jurisdictions fire department personnel take storm spotter courses, learn what areas in their area are likely to flood, and taught water rescue techniques. I would contend it makes far more sense for fire departments to handle these situations than police which receive (as far as I know) none of this training.

    ReplyDelete

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