How to Escape a Sinking Car
Last year alone, there were 242 accidental deaths in water according to the Water Incidents Database. Only a small percentage of those involved cars. Drowning cars may be fairly rare but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.
It all starts with some basic safety advice.
- Whenever possible, don’t park too close to rivers, canals, or other large areas of water.
- Make sure that you put the handbrake on and leave the car in gear; put automatic cars into ‘park’.
- Never leave your children in the vehicle unattended.
- Never attempt to drive your vehicle through moving flood water that is more than 4 inches deep but be aware that water levels can change quickly.
If Your Car Gets Stuck
If you are driving and find your car gets stuck in moving flood waters, wind your window down, stay in the vehicle, and call out loudly for help. Do not exit the vehicle unless the water is shallow and still, if you can see the bottom, and there is dry land nearby.
If Your Car Falls in to Deep Water
Nobody would like to think that their vehicle will end up in the water but it can and does happen. Be aware that when you first go in to the water, the airbags could go off. From here, every second counts. Do not waste your time calling out for help.
Your car may float for a time before sinking so you need to get out ASAP.
- If the cars lights still work, switch them all on to help rescuers locate you.
- Free yourself and any passengers from seatbelts and child seats. Don’t expect your passengers to do this as fear may set in rendering them unable.
- If your head restraints are removable, pull them out when you release your seatbelt to enable easy passage for rear passengers – you can also use the head restraints to smash the side windows if necessary.
- Due to the pressure of the water outside, the door may be hard, if not impossible to open so open windows and the sunroof if you have one. Even electric windows will still work for a short while.
- If your windows jam, try to break them. An ’emergency hammer’ is ideal; a steering wheel security lock will do; or kick hard.
- Get your passengers out of the openings as quickly as possible and take any floatable items at hand that may help you to get to safety.
- If you are unable to open a window, there is the equalisation option as a last resort. Keep your head. There should be enough air for the minute or two that it will take to prepare to escape. When the car is nearly full of water, take a deep breath and push a door open, you may need to do this with your feet (for extra strength). Note the wait: If you try to open the doors too soon the water pressure will defeat you.