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COP26: Its meaning at home


As world leaders gather at the 26th United Nations Climate Change conference in Glasgow, Scotland known as COP26 (the 26th “Conference of the Parties”), the impacts of our warming climate on all aspects of life are becoming inescapable. More severe weather in the form of stronger hurricanes and thunderstorms, catastrophic rain events and flooding, drought conditions and wildfires are all combining to make the Glasgow summit a critical turning point in our global effort to find a more sustainable path forward.

In the Southeast United States, the amount of precipitation falling during heavy rainstorms has increased by 27% since 1958. Tropical storms and hurricanes have become more intense in the last 20 years. As sea levels rise, these storms create bigger storm surges, which in turn cause greater, more catastrophic flooding. Beach erosion, submersion of low lands, and inland flooding occurs, all due to more intense storms producing greater rain events.


These severe rain events can and do cause flash flooding, and 50% of flash flooding deaths occur when vehicles are driven into hazardous flood waters. Vehicles can be swept away in 18-24 inches of moving water; cars will float when the force of the water is greater than the force of friction.

According to FEMA, only 6 inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger vehicles and cause a loss of control and steering; 1 foot of water will cause many vehicles to float away; 2 feet of water will cause most vehicles to be swept away, even SUVs and pick up trucks.

These statistics prompted the campaign: “Turn Around, Don’t Drown.”


If you cannot turn around, and suddenly find yourself and your vehicle in water that is rising and/or moving rapidly, it is important to remember the following checklists:


  • Stay calm. You’ll need your wits about you.
  • Turn on your headlights and hazard lights. This will make it easier for emergency personnel to see you.
  • Unbuckle your seat belt.
  • Unlock your doors.
  • Take jackets and outer clothing off.
  • Lower your window slowly. Most electric windows should work unless the car is completely submerged in water.
  • If you can lower the windows, climb out. Get to high ground and call 911.
  • If the windows will not open, you’ll have to use a door to get out. But you won’t be able to open a door until the water pressure is equalized between the outside and the inside of the car. This means you’ll have to wait for water to enter the car and fill up to about your neck level (this sounds terrifying, but this is the only way the doors will open).
  • Once the doors are open, swim to safety and call 911.


  • Do not panic.
  • Do not use your energy trying to open the doors because water pressure will keep them from budging (wait for the pressure to equalize).
  • Do not try to save your possessions.
  • Do not try to break windows to get out. If water pressure has not equalized, glass will explode inward toward you or other occupants.
  • Once out, do not stay with your car. Get to high ground.
  • Do not stand on the roof of your car. If your car is swept away, you’ll be carried away with it. You could also fall and injure yourself if the car shifts abruptly.
  • Do not return to your car if you think the water level is going down. Water levels could rise without warning. Allow emergency personnel to tow your vehicle to a safe place.

If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident, contact Dave Thomas at the Thomas Law Firm for a free consultation regarding your legal rights.

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Thomas Law Firm
Located at 945 East Paces Ferry Road, Resurgens Plaza, GA 30326.

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