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Would you know what to do if your vehicle was submerged in water and sinking?

This is a post I hope you will never have to put into action.  Would you know what to do if you found yourself inside of a vehicle surrounded with water and your vehicle was sinking?   I recently saw a video of a car that had run off a parking lot into the water and the driver was saved by a good Samaritan that jumped into action and helped get the driver out of the car out before the car sank.

It is estimated that 400 people drown each year in the U.S. because their vehicle was submerged in water.   Thankfully, most of us will never have to experience the terror we would feel if our vehicle was going down while we were trapped inside the vehicle, but having a plan of action, should you find yourself in this type of situation, could save your life.   Every second counts when you’re in this type of situation.

According to information I read, experts say that you will likely have 30-60 seconds to escape your vehicle.    After reading and educating myself about the problem, I have summarized some suggestions made by the experts.

What to do if this happened to you:

If possible, get out BEFORE the vehicle goes underwater.  This sounds obvious, but some might think they have more time than they actually do once it starts sinking.

How to quickly escape a sinking vehicle:

If you find your vehicle in sinking water, quickly follow these steps.  Stay as calm as possible.   Remember your goal is to get out in 30 – 60 seconds or less.    Experts suggest these steps, in this order:

  1. Unbuckle your seatbelt first.
  2. Second, quickly roll down your window. Oftentimes the backseat windows have a child lock or do not roll down all the way, so it may be necessary for each person to exit through the front car door windows.   If you have children in the backseat, tell them to quickly unbuckle and climb over the seat to get them out through the open windows in the front seat.    If you have a child in a car seat, experts advise getting the oldest child over the seat and out the window first while you are unbuckling the younger one.   Get all the backseat children out, then immediately get yourself out of the vehicle to safety.

If you are not able to get out before the vehicle is submerged in the water, you should have a glass-breaking device in your car that is easily accessible.   Once your vehicle is under water, it is nearly impossible to open your car doors or windows with the pressure of the water against the windows and doors.   And with most cars being equipped with electronic locks and windows, those electronic features may not work properly if they are exposed to water.  I am including a link for a glass-breaking device here so that you can get an idea of what type of tool the experts are referring to when they talk about having this tool in your vehicle.   My wife purchased one for me.  There are many versions of this device, but this is an inexpensive, light-weight tool that could save your life, or someone else’s life.    It can break the window on your car door window and has a recessed razor blade that you can use to cut your seatbelt off in case you cannot unbuckle it.

If you are unable to roll down your windows and need to break the glass window, go for the corners of the window and not the middle section of the window.   The corners break much more easily than the center section of the glass window because the glass on the windows is tempered glass.

These tools are also used to cut off seatbelts in terrible accidents when a person has been trapped inside the car and unable to unbuckle their seatbelts due to a seatbelt malfunction.

Again, seconds matter, so having a plan of action in place and knowing what to do, and how to do it properly the first time, may save lives.    Know how to use your glass-break device BEFORE you find yourself in an emergency situation.  You won’t have time to figure out the functions of the device if you’re in panic mode.