Life-saving Tip on How to Escape Sinking Car Within 30–60 Seconds

By Robert Jay Watson
Robert Jay Watson
Robert Jay Watson
November 10, 2019 Updated: November 15, 2019

It’s a nightmare that any driver can relate to, especially one with children. A flooded street or skidding off the road into a body of water. As the car sinks and the waters mount, what would you do?

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If you were in this car, would you know what to do? (Illustration – Shutterstock | Stastny_Pavel)

It may seem like an unlikely situation, but as Gerald Dworkin of Lifesaving Resources told the Orlando Sentinel, about 1,200 to 1,500 vehicles in the United States end up submerged in water each year. With record numbers of tornadoes hitting the country in 2019 and devastating floods across the Midwest, you never know when your street might turn into a lake.

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Time is not on your side (Illustration – Shutterstock | Aaron Amat)

1) Time is of the essence

When you realize that your car is sinking, it’s important not to delay or panic no matter how much you feel like it! Each second is precious, and the longer you wait, the harder it will be to get out. As the car sinks further, the crushing pressure of the water will eventually mean that you’ll need superhuman strength to wrest the doors open.

Experts say that passengers have between 30 and 60 seconds to get out, as by after a minute, the car can sink too far to be able to get out.

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Get those windows down asap! (Illustration – Shutterstock | kryzhov)

2) Seat belts off, windows down

While we’re all taught, with good reason, to keep our seat belts safely fastened in the car, this is one particular situation where your seat belt could actually harm your life rather than save it. As soon as the car goes into the water, unbuckle yourself and get everyone else in the car to do so. You’ll need to help unbuckle small children.

Once you’re free to move, get the windows down right away. If you have driver-controlled electric windows, you can roll them all down at the same time. You might need to unlock passenger controls so everyone can get theirs down. If you have manual windows, get everyone to roll theirs down as fast as they can. While this will let water into the car, it’s the only way that you’ll be able to escape once the car has sunk.

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Be sure to unbuckle yourself first so you can properly assist children (Illustration – Shutterstock | best time photos)

3) Have the right tools

If for whatever reason, your electric windows fail or can’t be rolled down in time, you’ll need to break the windows to escape. Many emergency window-breaking tools exist, with hammer attachments that can quickly break open a window, as well as handy seat belt cutters for yourself or other passengers whose seat belts are jammed.

These inexpensive, widely available tools could mean the difference between life and death, so why not buy some and keep them in your car?

4) Swim to safety

Once everyone is unbuckled and the windows are open, the incoming rush of the water is going to be incredibly powerful. You’ll have to swim hard to counteract it, and you’ll need to pick up any babies or small children as you go. Push them out into the water first so you can swim behind and help pull them up to the surface.

Let’s review the steps:

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Illustration – Shutterstock | rumruay

Now that you know what to do, you know not to panic and not to delay. Act quickly and you can save yourself and your passengers!

Robert Jay Watson
Robert Jay Watson