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How To Escape From a Sinking Vehicle

A car will never be as difficult to exit from as it is when it’s drowning. As hopeless as it seems, it’s still entirely possible to escape from. Just keep calm and follow this advice on how to escape a sinking car.

Vehicular accidents happen, often out of our own control. We recently talked about how to escape from a moving car. There are few things as scary as when an accident happens and it leads to your car falling into water. There’s also a lot of misinformation about the best way to escape such a situation. Instead of panicking, remember these facts and you’ll be able to rescue both yourself and any passengers you have.

Act Quickly and Calmly

Studies have shown that the ideal time to escape is within the first two minutes of hitting the water. This is because, due to buoyancy, most vehicles will actually float for about that long before starting to sink. Depth is your enemy in a sinking car, so it’s vital that you take action during this time. Of course, it’s important to stay calm and not panic.

Do Not Wait for Pressure to Equalize

A common myth is that when in this scenario, you should wait until the water has filled the vehicle before trying to escape. The logic is that the pressure between the inside and outside will equalize, making escape easier. Tests have been done by a number of folks, including Mythbusters, and they all came up with the same results: this is a bad idea. The pressure changes do not happen fast enough and waiting will only let the car sink further. Do not wait, act immediately.

Ignore the Door, Go For a Window

The pressure issue is still a real problem, though. All the outward pressure pishing in will make it nearly impossible to open a car door. Try it once and if you cant with regular force, then go for a window instead.

Believe it or not, electric window mechanics will often still function while submerged, if only for a small time. If you’re able to, just roll down the window. Yes, water will rush in, but you now have an opening you crawl out of. If you can’t roll it down, break it.

Some folks keep hammers or wrenches in their glove box for this exact reason. Others invest in what’s called a Car Escape Tool. This tool has a pointed tip hammer on it for maximum window shattering potential while also sporting a seatbelt cutter on the handle. We recommend investing in one and keeping it in your car.

Pull Yourself Out, Push Off the Car

Once you have a window or door open, use the car to pull yourself out of the vehicle, you’ll likely be pushing against a flood of water, so expect a struggle. Once you are out, you can push against the top of the car to boost yourself up to the surface faster. Once on the surface, tread water and either swim to safety or await rescue.

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