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Rossen Reports update: How to survive being trapped in your car during a flash flood

As Hurricane Harvey pummels the Texas coast, TODAY national investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen shows how to survive a flash flood if you are caught in your vehicle.
/ Source: TODAY

Hurricane Harvey continues to wreak havoc along the Texas coast, producing flash floods that are especially dangerous to anyone driving in the affected areas this weekend. Already this year record-breaking floods in California have swept vehicles away with people trapped inside. Sometimes it's easy to see the water raging, but other times it looks calm enough to drive right through.

For more important safety information, pre-order Jeff Rossen's new book "Rossen to the Rescue" here.

Jim Douglas, an instructor with Raven Rescue, told TODAY national investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen that "not even a foot" of water is enough to make a car float. And SUVs and 4x4s are not immune: "Those big tires will make a truck float even easier," Douglas said. "They are like big buoys. They'll float even faster."

Last year, on a special training course in Whistler, British Columbia, the Rossen Reports team staged a dramatic demonstration of just how quickly a pickup truck can be swept away in a flash flood — and how to survive such a situation.

Critical tips:

  • Roll the window down the second the water rises: It is your only way out.
  • Get on the roof of the vehicle.
  • Stay low and hang on. Stay stable: A car can flip in 6 feet of water. "At least being on the roof you've got a fighting chance," Douglas said. "If you are inside and that car flips over, you've got no chance."

But the simplest advice from experts is: Stay out of flooded areas all together, even if the water looks calm. Not only is it dangerous for you: It's also dangerous for the rescuers who have to go in after you.

Jeff Rossen car flood
In a dramatic demonstration, Jeff Rossen clings to the roof of a pickup swept away in a staged flash flood.TODAY

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