Feature article from the March, 2007 Newsletter


If You Are Ever In a Sinking Car


Most of us don’t plan to drive our car into a body of water, or to be a passenger in a car that enters one.  But accidents happen, and the difference between survival and death hinges on whether you know what to do.  The steps we outline below, could save your life.  They have saved others.

 You will probably not be able to open the door right away, because the pressure of the water will keep it shut at first.  However, it can be opened easily when the car has filled with water, because then the pressures will be the same inside and outside the car.

 Immediately put your hand on the door handle so that you know where it is regardless of what happens next; if the car doesn’t remain upright you will probably become disoriented, and in any case you won’t be able to see where the door handle is unless the water is clear and you’re very near the surface.

 Keep your seatbelt on as the car sinks.  Do not release it until you are ready to escape.  The car might pitch or roll while sinking, and you don’t want to be thrown around.  The exception to keeping your seatbelt on until the last minute is if the car pitches sharply forward or turns upside down.  In that case, you may need to maneuver to the air pocket until the car has filled.

Remove heavy outer clothing and shoes, and any heavy objects from your remaining clothes, if you can do it quickly.  They will weigh you down, and heavy clothes might snag on something.

 Contrary to every likely instinct: Open the window immediately .  Keeping all the windows closed would slow, but not prevent, the water from filling the car.  The sooner the car floods, the sooner you either will be able to swim out through that window, or will be able to open the door to exit that way.   (If your car has electric windows, they will likely not operate once the car is underwater, because the electrical system will have shorted out.)

Consider buying  spring-loaded device such as the “SOS Hammer”, which you can use to shatter a window and/or cut a stuck seatbelt.  The device can be attached under the center of the dash for easy access by driver and passenger. 

     You might have some difficult decisions to make.  For instance, do you unbuckle your seat belt early in order to remove a heavy
        coat?  And do you take your hand away from the door handle in order to use two hands to remove the coat more quickly? There is probably no definitive answer to those questions, you will have to decide when the time comes.

    
Memorize the information above, because your first reaction in this life-threatening situation will probably be panic.  Unless you have the instructions firmly in mind, you’re very unlikely to be able to recall them.  But they could save your life.

 

W. A. Shapiro, using information from a variety of sources

 


 


 

 Memorize the information above, because your first reaction in this life-threatening situation will probably be panic.  Unless you have the instructions firmly in mind, you’re very unlikely to be able to recall them.  But they could save your life.

 

W. A. Shapiro, using information from a variety of sources

 


 




6.3.06-1445