A car falling into water is an extremely dangerous situation that we pray that no one ever has to face. However, in the utmost unfortunate case that it does, there are some simple steps you can take to maximise your chance of survival.
According to a survey done in America, as many as 11,000 accidents occur every year that involves a car sinking into the water, and hundreds of people drown in their cars each year. While surviving a sinking car is the kind of experience that no sane person would want to go through and is definitely not an easy feat, it is of your best interest that you know what you should do in such time. God knows what will happen in the future, and the only thing you can do is to be best prepared for worst-case scenarios. The objective of this article is to show you a mantra that is easy to remember, like the “stop-drop-roll” when your clothes catch fire, and it is Seatbelt-Window-Out or SWO.
1. Stay calm
This is not in the SWO and may seem like a fool’s advice, but many experts on the field of rescue and submerged vehicles actually say that keeping calm is the most important thing to do, because once you lose control, everything you try to do afterwards will be in vain. So, it does not matter how your car ends up in the water, do your best to maintain a certain level of composure.
The most important thing to remember and execute is to not panic and to keep calm as well as you possibly can
2. Unfasten your SEATBELT
One popular myth/belief that needs to be busted right here and now about escaping a sinking car is that you should close all the doors and windows, wait until the water fills the cabin and the pressure equalises. The truth is that if you do nothing and wait till the cabin is fully occupied by water, you are probably drowned by then. If your car falls into a lake or worse, a river, chances are that you do not know for sure how deep the water is, so you will be certain of how long it will take for the car to reach the bottom or to be filled with water. Therefore, the wiser course of action to take is to set yourself free of any restraints and escape as soon as possible. So, enable yourself and unfasten your seatbelt.
The first step to take is to unbuckle your seatbelt
3. Open or break the WINDOW
No matter how the car falls into water, front first or rear first, the heavier end will end up tilting forward, and for most cars, it is the front with the hefty engine. Once the water presses against the car doors, it is virtually impossible for you to escape through the car doors, so the windows are the better choice. But here is the catch: Car is heavy, thus it sinks fast, and once the water level reaches the window, the pressure also prevents the window from opening too.
Experts say that you have a maximum of 60 seconds to roll down that window and get out; therefore, you should do whatever you can to bust the windows open in those 60 seconds. In case your car has automatic windows, the electricity does not die as soon as the car hits the water, so you have a short time period that ranges from 10 to 60 seconds, depending on the car, to roll down that windows. Some cars actually have sensors that automatically open the car windows when they sense that the vehicle is inside water.
In worst-case scenarios in which you cannot open your windows by rolling it down, you must resort to brute force to break them open by targeting the corners of the windows. If you work out regularly, you can do it by using your elbow, but chances are you may cut yourself pretty badly. The best choice would be to have a safety hammer near the driver’s seat, so you can use it to break the windows in urgent situations like this.
Note: if you have passengers on board, you should still prioritise breaking the windows open before helping them unfasten their seatbelts, as creating an exit route is much more vital to everyone’s survival.
After unfastening your own seatbelt, open your car window using a safety hammer
4. Get OUT
As soon the window is open, you should climb out or swim out immediately. If you have small kids with you, let the kids get out before you, from oldest to youngest. This may go against a parent’s instinct to help the younger children, but this method is the best way to ensure as many people as possible are alive.
Let your kids get out first, from oldest to youngest, then bring the infant with you and escape