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Las Vegas motorists urged to prepare for flash floods

With monsoon season in effect in Southern Nevada, drivers are urged not to attempt to cross flooded roads, no matter how shallow the water appears.

Despite warning after warning, each year drivers trying to avoid the few extra minutes of taking an alternate route take the risk and get stuck in a stream in the road.

“Floodwaters can rise a foot a minute, and sometimes sheer walls of water emerge from typically dry washes or hillsides,” Clark County Regional Flood Control District spokeswoman Erin Neff said in a statement. “Just 12 inches of water can disable a vehicle and send it floating out of control.”

If you find yourself in this dangerous situation with floodwaters rising while you’re in your vehicle, it’s important to know how to get out.

AAA recommends using the SURE method.

Stay calm: Keeping your cool while working to ensure everyone safely exits the vehicle is key.

Unbuckle seat belts: Ensure all occupants of the vehicle are able to freely move about and are ready to exit when it’s time.

Roll down or break a window: If the vehicle is sinking in water, once a window is open the water will rush into the vehicle at a faster rate. If a window will not open and the car has tempered glass, use an escape tool to break a side window to escape.

Exit the vehicle quickly and move everyone to safety. Usually alerting authorities is the first step in an emergency, but if a vehicle is in water or is on fire, it is best to try to escape first, then call 911.

Drivers should also remember that:

— If a window will not open or cannot be broken, occupants should move to the rear of the vehicle or wherever there’s an air pocket. Stay with it until all of the air has left the vehicle. Then the pressure should equalize, allowing occupants to open a door and escape.

— If the vehicle is submerged, a hammer-style escape tool could be much harder to swing. Using a spring-loaded-style tool could be more effective.

Prepare

Knowing the type of glass in your vehicle windows is important. Only tempered glass can be broken with standard escape tools.

“To improve safety, more vehicles are being equipped with laminated side windows — but typically those vehicles also have at least one window made of tempered glass,” said AAA Nevada spokesman Sergio Avila said in a statement. “The AAA research found vehicle escape tools can be effective in an emergency, but more so if drivers know what type of side windows they have.”

Other tips

— Keep an escape tool in a safe, accessible place. Test the tool on a softer surface such as a piece of wood. The tool works if the tip strikes the surface and leaves a small indent in the material.

— Plan an exit strategy with everyone in the vehicle and have a backup plan in case an escape tool cannot be used or is ineffective.

U.S. 95 restrictions

U.S. Highway 95 will see lane restrictions on a pair of overnights for bridge deck spall and joint repairs, as a result of normal wear and tear, the Nevada Department of Transportation announced.

Monday night-Tuesday morning

The two inside travel lanes along northbound U.S. 95 will close between Flamingo and Desert Inn roads from 8 p.m. Monday until 4 a.m. Tuesday.

Tuesday night-Wednesday morning

The two inside travel lanes along northbound U.S. 95 will close between Desert Inn and Sahara Avenue from 8 p.m. Tuesday until 4 a.m. Wednesday.

Send questions and comments to roadwarrior@reviewjournal.com. Please include your phone number. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.

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