Safety Tips for Crossing Water While Off-Roading

BY KAYLA BEIRNE

Off-roading vehicles are powerful machines, but they are far from waterproof. Our tips will help you safely navigate water in your off-roading vehicle.

Off-roading is a thrilling experience. Drivers get to draw closer to nature than they would have on hiking trails and push their skills to the limit. Unfortunately, this comes with its own share of dangers.

This is especially true when trying to ford streams. It’s easy to assume that an off-roading vehicle—as tall and built for adversity as it is—will be able to handle a body of water if it is taller than it. But this mindset can lead to dangerous scenarios for the off-roader. To avoid this, we have compiled these safety tips for crossing water while off-roading.

Prepare Vehicle Beforehand

As Benjamin Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” While he was referring to fire prevention, the same can be said of striving to off-road across water safely.

We can’t make an off-road vehicle waterproof, but we can prepare it to be able to handle conditions in the water as well as possible. For instance, keeping water out of your engine is one of the ways snorkels improve off-roading performance. You can also ensure you have tires equipped to handle the mud you may find on the stream’s banks.

Only Cross at Designated Areas

On most trails that require you to cross a stream, there will be designated areas for you to cross anyway. These are spots where those in charge of the area have determined that crossing is safe. Crossing elsewhere can put you at greater risk of getting stuck.

Additionally, shores by streams are potential locations for nests and breeding for the local fauna. Crossing in undesignated areas can lead to disrupting the ecosystem of the area.

Get Out To Check the Depths

Even in designated crossing areas, the water and current levels can potentially be higher than you anticipate. This is especially true after snow melts or heavy rain. Because you are elevated in your vehicle, it can be difficult to detect these changes in water levels until it is too late.

The best practice is to get out of your vehicle and wade across the water yourself. If the water or current is too high or heavy for you, then chances are it will be difficult or dangerous to cross.

Roll Down Your Window

In the event you are crossing a stream and water begins to fill up your car, you will only have a few seconds before the electrical components in your car stop working. At that point, rolling down your window will become impossible. Rolling it down before you hit the water will buy you precious time to escape your car.

Off-roading is a thrilling experience, but only when it is done safely. But by going into the venture armed with knowledge, you can experience all the thrill of a trip off the trails without endangering yourself or your passengers.

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