Survival Tips: How to Escape a Sinking Car

If your car is sinking, these tips could help you escape.

Whether a driver encounters a slippery patch on a bridge or a weak patch of ice, cars can quickly become submerged in water. When that happens, drivers and passengers must act — fast.

To be prepared for a water escape, memorize the following escape plan.

Step 1: Keep time on your side.

When the car hits water, it will float for a few minutes before the weight of the vehicle pulls it under. The driver and passengers should try to stay calm and focus on getting out of the vehicle. There will not be time to call 9-1-1 immediately. Wait until you are out of the vehicle and then call 9-1-1.

Step 2: Remove seatbelts.

Unbuckle your seatbelt. If there are children in the vehicle, help them do the same. Start with the oldest children so that they can help younger children unbuckle. Hold on to young children who cannot swim.

Step 3: Roll down the window – or break it.

Forget about opening the car door. As the vehicle sinks, the water pressure will make it too difficult to open the door. Instead, roll down the window.

If you have electric windows, the electrical system in the vehicle should work for up to three minutes under water. Take a breath. Open the window.

If the electrical system shorts out, break the glass with a blunt object. (Purchase a tool for this purpose in advance, and keep it where you can quickly reach it.) Or, kick the window out, if necessary.

Step 4: Swim to safety.

Once the window is open, swim through it. Move away from the vehicle and toward the surface. If there are passengers in the car, send them ahead of you.

Don't wait for the car to reach the bottom before opening a window or door. Get out as quickly as possible.

Contact the authorities

After reaching land, find someone who can help you contact the authorities and obtain needed medical care.