CDC: Many Hurricane Deaths Due to Drowning in Motor Vehicles
Of the 52 people who died in North Carolina during Hurricane Floyd on Sept. 16 last year, 24 drowned in motor vehicles and seven died in motor vehicle crashes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported.
Hurricane Floyd, with sustained winds of 96-110 mph, made landfall in North Carolina and dropped up to 20 inches of rain in eastern parts of the state. Sixty-seven percent of the deaths involved occupants of motor vehicles trapped in flood waters.
In areas where flooding occurs, water rises quickly and forces people to evacuate without preparation. During and after the hurricane, rural inland counties were the most severely affected. People may not have realized or been informed about the risks associated with the severe storm. Drowning was a major cause of death-especially among people who attempted to drive through moving water.
CDC suggests that public health intervention strategies could decrease the risk in future hurricane-related disasters. Public service announcements, educational materials, and training programs on preparedness should be made more accessible to all communities before the hurricane season. For example, motorists should be warned not to drive through areas imminent danger of flash floods or onto roads and bridges covered by rapidly moving water. If vehicles are necessary for evacuation, safety routes should be identified in advance.
This document was last updated on June 16, 2000.
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