Get out of a sinking car!
Do you have, anywhere you drive: levees, rivers, cliffs, oceans, lakes, docks, bridges . . . ? Some 400 people drown each year in the U.S. from being trapped in sinking cars. Don’t be one of them.
You can escape from a sinking car.
But you need to have a plan before it happens. Talk about your plan with family members.
Experts agree on four steps to survival.
Step 1. You have only one minute. Think then act.
What’s the situation? Is the car sinking nose down, or rear down? (The position of the motor determines this.) Who is in the car? What tools do you have?
Do NOT try to make a phone call. Do NOT try to save valuables.
You probably have about one minute to save yourself – make every second count.
Step 2. Unfasten your seat belt.
Unbuckle your seatbelt. If necessary, cut it off.**
Step 3. Get the side window open while it is still above water.
Leave the key in the ignition and you will likely be able to open the windows electronically. If they won’t open, use your heels or a tool** to punch a hole in the middle of a SIDE window. (You can’t break the front window.) You won’t be able to break the windows when the car is full of water.
Do not try to open the door against the pressure of the water – you won’t be able to and any water entering will cause the car to sink even faster.
Step 4. Get out through the window and swim. Children first; push them out if you have to.
If it’s dark or you’re disoriented, look for light or watch which way the bubbles are rising and swim in that direction.
Last chance; not a good one.
If you didn’t get the window open, you may be able to open the door once the car has filled with water and pressure is equalized. But waiting for the car to fill will use precious time, you’ll be deeper in the water, and you’ll have to hold your breath for much longer. Your chances are not good with this technique.
** Car Escape Tools.
Most car accessory shops and hardware stores carry special car escape tools. There are two main types: a “hammer” version with a razor blade embedded in it for cutting the seat belt, and a smaller keychain tool that has a spring-loaded spike for breaking the window in addition to the razor cutter. Prices range from around $5 to around $25. Click here to take a look!
Along with a survival kit and jumper cables a car escape tool seems like another no-brainer for drivers. Look for packages with two or more tools; you’ll want one for every car. This escape tool would make a good gift, too, particularly for a new driver.
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team
P.S. If you don’t have your tool immediately handy it will be useless. Where can you put the tool in your car so it stays put: in the glove box, fastened to the window visor, beside the seat? In a violent fall the tool could fly out and end up anywhere. You will NOT have time to look for it.
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