How to Escape a Submerged Car
With recent flooding in our coverage area (Roswell, Las Vegas, Santa Rosa and others) and other states (Colorado, Texas and Florida) this has become a new concern. Any car accident is frightening, but an accident in which your vehicle is thrown into the water, with you trapped inside, is absolutely terrifying. Such accidents are particularly dangerous due to the risk of drowning and in the states, 10 percent of drowning deaths can be attributed to being submerged in a car and about 400 North Americans die from being submerged in a car every year.
However, most deaths are a result of panic, not having a plan and not understanding what is happening to the car in the water. By adopting a brace position to survive the impact, acting decisively when the car ends up in the water, and getting out fast, being trapped in a sinking vehicle is survivable, even if it’s a flooded river .A person has about a minute to get out alive
Here are rules of survival:
Rule 1. Don’t Call 911 until you’re out of the car. You’re going to need every second to get out of that vehicle. Worry about calling 911 once you’ve made it out alive, or, as in the case of the I-5 collapse in Washington state last year this saved lives, if your vehicle isn’t submerged. Time is critical, If you touch your cell phone you’re probably going to die.
Rule 3. Don’t open the door! Roll down the windows instead. Opening the door is very difficult against the water pressure and it also allows so much water into the vehicle that it will speed up the sinking process.
You’ll have 30 seconds to a minute until the water rises to the bottom of the passenger windows. This is what called the floating period. After that, the water pressure will force the window against the doorframe, making it essentially impossible to roll down.
Caveat to Rule 3: Break that window. Since most vehicles these days have electronically controlled windows, the circuits probably will short before you have a chance to roll them down. In that case, you’ll need a tool to break the window open.
Two of the most popular are the LifeHammer ($14.95), which has a hardened-steel point to help crack open the window, and the ResQMe keychain ($9.95), which uses a spring-loaded mechanism to shatter glass. If you plan on practicing with either one of these, take it from personal experience and wear work gloves. Otherwise you will cut your hands. Make sure these tools are within reach at all times, otherwise you’ll never get to them in time And they won’t work underwater. Again, you’ve got act quickly.
Rule 4. Children first. Everybody should go out their own window if possible, but the kids are going to have a harder time fighting through the rush of water, so push them out if you have to. Starting with the oldest kids and taking the youngest out in your arms.
Rule 5. Get out. Swim through the broken window as fast as possible.
If you’ve failed to get that window rolled down or broken, you’ll still have the slightest of chances to escape. Once water fills the car, the pressure will be equalized and you will be able to open the door. But to do this, you will also have to be expert at holding your breath in an extremely stressful situation. that unless you’re a modern-day Houdini, the odds are pretty slim.
- Your clothing and heavy objects in your pockets can make you sink. Be mentally prepared to kick off your shoes and remove heavy outer clothing such as jackets if necessary. The less clothing you have on the easier swimming will be. Even your jeans or pants will weigh you down significantly.
- You can also use the metal part of the head rest to break the windows.
- Don’t bother turning your lights off. Turn them on if you are unable to escape or if the water is cloudy. The light’s electronics are usually waterproofed, and the lights themselves will help rescuers find your vehicle.
- It can be difficult to direct other people in this situation. Be prepared and discuss the possibility before it happens. Focus on children first; adults will need to fend for themselves until the children have been helped, so don’t be distracted.
- Keep the tools for escaping within the vehicle at all times. The emergency window breaking devices are available from safety stores.
- If you ride regularly with people and drive by water, discuss what to do if the car goes into the water. Anticipation and planning are critical to surviving life threatening emergencies like this one. Teach all family members including children the S-C-W-O method:
S-SEAT BELT Remove seatbelt
C- CHILDREN-Free children first
W- WINDOW– Open window
O-OUT-Get out fast.
- Under certain circumstances pressure may not equalize until the entire cabin is flooded. In this situation, either fight the current or wait until the car is fully submerged before making your escape.
Information from AAA, NSC , ABC, CBS and popular mechanics
Today’s post comes to us courtesy of Ken Oswald, Safety and Security Manager for Plateau