Situational awareness: Water survival guidance for people in road vehicles

Control Measure Knowledge

This control measure should be read in conjunction with:


There are several factors which may affect the advice given to people in road vehicles in water by fire control personnel, these include:

  • Type of vehicle, including make, model and fuel type
  • Condition of electrics in the vehicle, such as electric windows
  • Water level outside and inside the vehicle
  • Number and location of people and animals in the vehicle
  • Direction of the vehicle in relation to the water flow
  • Stability of the vehicle
  • If the vehicle has moved, how far it has moved and how quickly
  • Any damage sustained to electric vehicles, due to the effect this may have on the high voltage systems
  • Any damage sustained to vehicles which has affected access and egress, for example damage preventing the doors being opened
  • Stability of the water, whether the water level and flow are or likely to increase

Establishing the make and model of the vehicle will assist operational personnel in identifying where safety systems, such as airbags, are located. This will enable operational personnel to isolate safety systems if required and reduce the risk of harm from their unexpected actuation.

If there are multiple vehicles in flood water, the behaviour of other vehicles may be used to build situational awareness. For example, if other vehicles are buoyant and moving it is likely that this will happen to the involved vehicle.

Smoke and electricity arcing may indicate that damage has occurred to electrical systems in the vehicle. If there are no external signs of damage, it is important to establish if it was involved in a collision, as this may affect the ability of the casualties to exit the vehicle or emergency responders to gain access to the vehicle.

Strategic Actions

Tactical Actions