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Escaping From A Crash Into Water

Over the past year there have been several instances of drivers losing control of their vehicle and crashing into a pond or stream. Knowing how to deal with such a situation beforehand can help you survive. Of course, the first step in this process is to watch both your speed and the road ahead. Losing control of one's vehicle usually means that the driver is driving too fast for conditions and not paying attention to the road ahead. Prevention is the best defense against a crash of this type. However, should you find yourself driving into a body of water and your vehicle is submerged, here are the things you should know and do.

If your vehicle is thrown into the water:

  • Stay CALM. Focusing on the situation is a necessary part of surviving a water crash.
  • Unlock doors, roll down all windows and open any doors before you submerge. As the vehicle descends the option to open the door is unavailable.
  • Turn your headlights on to help you see in the water and rescuers to locate the vehicle.

In most water crashes, a vehicle will float for a period of 3 or 4 minutes before the weight of the engine pulls the vehicle under. This precious time may allow you to unbuckle your seat belt, roll down your window and get out. Escaping through the trunk is another option. Make sure your vehicle has access from the back seat and you know the location of the trunk release.

If the vehicle is immediately pulled under water, you will need to wait until the water level inside the vehicle completely fills the vehicle. This will equalize the pressure and you will be able to open the door.

Many experts recommend that if you cannot immediately get out of the vehicle before it sinks; keep your seatbelt in the locked position.

  • Break the driver or passenger's side windows. Apply force to the corner of the glass not the center.

The front and rear windshields are made of tempered glass and are very difficult to break. Have something in your vehicle that can break the window, an escape hammer or pointed tool available in the car. A spring-loaded center punch tool works above and below water. Whichever you decide, it must be attached securely to the dashboard or driver's side door where you can easily reach it.

After the window is broken the water will rush in. Keeping your seatbelt in the locked position will protect from the rush of water pushing against you and trapping you underneath the dashboard.

  • Remove any heavy clothing or shoes.
  • Unlock your seatbelt and that of any others.
  • Take a deep breath and get yourself and any others out of the vehicle.
  • Avoid kicking your feet and injuring others.
  • Swim up to the surface in the direction of your air bubbles.

Be aware of your surroundings and be prepared for any currents. Look for obstacles in the water that you may hold on to as you gather strength. Only go back down to the vehicle if there is someone else still trapped inside. Make sure you have the physical ability and swimming skills to do so.

Preparation of what to do in advance and using the time wisely during the situation are critical to a successful recovery!

Here are some tips for Dealing with Flooded Roads from the National Safety Commission.

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