Sheriff Jay Koon

Summer storms and the start of hurricane season can bring a significant amount of rain and turbulent weather to the Midlands.

As we’ve recently witnessed, many roads around Lexington County quickly flood and turn into hazardous driving situations. According to FEMA, it only takes six inches of water to cause loss of control and/or stalling, and just a foot of water to float many vehicles. When you’re out driving and you approach a flooded road, please do not attempt to drive or walk through it. The depth of water and what’s beneath it is not always obvious. Not only are you putting yourself and your passengers in danger, but you’re putting our first responders in harm’s way when they have to rescue you.

Every season, my deputies respond to dozens of calls from citizens who have landed in ditches after their vehicle has hydroplaned and often hit a tree or other object in its path. Don’t take unnecessary risks by failing to heed weather warnings. If you do need to drive somewhere, reduce speeds when roads are wet. Additionally, per South Carolina Motor Vehicle law, you must have your headlights on if your windshield wipers are in use. Failure to do so is a misdemeanor and can result in a $25 fine.

Avoid going out during a storm. Unless there’s an emergency, it’s always a safe bet to stay indoors when lightning and heavy rain are near. Lightning kills an average of 49 people each year in the United States and hundreds more are injured, according to the National Weather Service. Flooding kills even more. Remember that any area of the country can be subjected to floods. Practice flood safety by ensuring your family is prepared, informed and secure during inclement weather. Learn evacuation routes in case you’re directed to leave by local authorities.

And in case of an emergency, please call 911.