Photo by Aaron Nord – flickr

You’re traveling down a country lane on your way home from a very busy day. You’re thinking now about you’re family and dinner and what not.

But today is different. It has been raining all day. It started raining early this morning and the weatherman says it will continue for the next two days or so. The quaint little picturesque stream on the the side now looks like a raging torrent.

You continue on not knowing that that small bridge that crosses the stream has been washed away. You try to stop when you see it is gone but the rain slick roads makes this impossible and you land in the narrow creak bed that is now a torrent of water. The strength of the water pushes your car down the the bed until it becomes lodged. The water is now nearly over the top of your car. You try and open the door but the current is to strong. You try to free yourself but your seatbelt is now stuck from the impact. You’re trapped inside your car as it feels up with water.

You keep trying both doors and your seat belt. You can hear the debris hitting the side of your car. The door won’t open because it has become entangled in the debris. The water in the car is now over your head. You hold you breath for what seems like an eternity. You are still trying to open the door and manage to get it open a crack but this just lets more water inside.

It’s now been a little over a minute since your head has become submerged. Your chest feels like it’s going to explode now from holding you breath. You cannot do this much longer. You want — need — something, anything in your lungs now. Your breathing response takes over and you try to take in the water but you pharynx closes tight. You begin to lose consciousness. In this semi-consciousness state your pharynx loosens up and water now enters you lungs. You take another breath of water and another. The piece of your mind that is still functioning tells you that death is now certain and imminent but you now do not care.  The water in your lungs has begun to enter your blood stream and is destroying your red blood cells en masse.  You have begun to go into renal failure and your blood oxygen has begun to plummet. As this watery substance reaches your heart and brain you pass out and then go into full arrest.

Your body chemistry is now shot to hell. Brain death in 5 to 6 min. Maybe sooner.

The EMTs get your body out of the car and begin CPR but their efforts are a waste of time and energy. Your heart, lungs, kidney and the rest are now far too damaged to support life. You are pronounced dead at the scene however you were dead a while before that. Once you began drawing water into your lungs, that fate was sealed.

All of this — which takes 10 min at most — is going to be repeated more and more often with climate change and deteriorating roads and bridges and other infrastructure. What once was an ideal setting now can become a death trap.