As monsoon gets closer, officials remind you to stay away from flowing water

The best thing you can do to stay safe is stay away.
Published: Jul. 10, 2023 at 10:23 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) -With a chance for rain in the forecast this week, it is a good reminder that the first big monsoon storm could be getting closer.

And before that happens, local officials are reminding people to stay away from washes that can quickly fill up with rapidly flowing water.

“We do know that it only takes about a foot or two of water to wash your vehicle away and it takes even less than that to wash a person away,” said Jay Karlik, assistant chief with Rural Metro Fire.

Every year, monsoon brings heavy rains and flooding. To avoid putting yourself in a dangerous situation, officials said do not drive into flowing water.

“If water the is running, they should Turn Around, Don’t Drown. That’s the saying that goes along with it. Anytime there’s running water, you don’t know how deep it is, how fast it’s moving, that water can move vehicles down the wash,” said Matthew Storms, captain with Northwest Fire District.

If you come across a storm barricade, you are advised to never go around them. You are not only putting your life in danger but also the lives of the first responders called to rescue you.

“If there are barricades up, you never want to cross a barricade. Even if the washes are not running, those barricades are up for our safety. There could be a potential flash flooding and danger,” said Karlik.

If your vehicle does get stuck in this situation, there are several things you should do.

“The most important thing is obviously to stay calm. Stay in your vehicle, call 911. You don’t want to try to get out of your vehicle, that rush of water could wash you downstream and potentially create some worse scenario for you,” said Karlik.

Officials also asked that you do not swim, boat, or be anywhere near the washes when they are flowing.

“We don’t recommend that people go swim in there or play in the water. Depending on where the water is coming from. We don’t know what kind of sediment from previous wildfires as well as the debris that’s in the washes that can harm people if it’s flowing downstream,” said Storms.

The construction around the city could also add to the danger when the water starts flowing.

“There are other hazards in the washes with the bridges and construction that’s going on. They’re also things to look out for with rebar cages that they’re using for building the overpass at sunset. So, there is a lot of hazards in the washes. We would recommend people stay out of them,” said Storms.

If you do end up swept away in the water, officials added that you can yell for help if you have somebody nearby or try to grab onto something.

However, the best thing you can do to stay safe is stay away.

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