Drowning in cars causes the deaths of around 400 people each year in the US alone. This number can be significantly reduced by raising awareness of these steps you should take to get out of a sinking car.
Speed is the most crucial factor when escaping, act quickly! No matter which way you attempt to handle the situation, you have approximately 1 minute to escape alive according to the University of Manitoba's Gordon Geisbrecht. His job role is to train law enforcement officers and members of the public on escaping for submerged vehicles.
Geisbrecht provides five “must do’s” to remember when facing the unlikely and dire situation of being involved in a vehicle submersion.
#1: Don't Call 911:
The emergency serves should only be called once you have safely escaped the vehicle until you're out of the car. This is because there wouldn’t be enough time to search for you phone. "Time is critical," says Geisbrecht. "If you touch your cell phone you're probably going to die.”
#2: Unbuckle Seat Belts.
In a panic situation a simple step like this can often get overlooked. For obvious reasons, seat belts need to be unbuckled in order to make a quick escape.
#3: Don't Open The Door;
Rolling down the window is your best option before the car is fully submerged. With a door open, the rate of sinkage goes up rapidly due to excessive volumes of water being allowed to flow in. Upon entering the water you have around 30 seconds to 1 minute before the water reaches base of the window. This is often referred to as the "float" period. Once this point passes water presses up against the window, making it virtually impossible to roll it down.
The situation may require a window to be broken as many newer cars are fitted with electrically operated windows that usually short out before you have the opportunity to roll them down. In such a case, tools are available to shatter the window. The 2 most popular tools are the LifeHammer, this is a small hammer that has a hardened-steel point to crack open the window more easily and the ResQMe keychain, That fires a spring-loaded weight into the window. Neither of tools will work underwater, unfortunately and must be used immediately; keep them in an easy to find location.
#4: Get Children Out First.
Children normally have a more difficult time fighting against the water so the best option is to send the older ones out first, then take the younger ones in your arms.
#5: If All Else Fails
In the event that the widow wasn’t rolled down or shattered in time, there is still a small chance of getting out safely. When the car has filled up with water, the pressure is then equalized and doors can be opened. Viewers of the TV show “Mythbusters” may remember this technique featuring on a few episodes. In this scenario you’d be required to hold your breath for a long length of time, staying calm is also very crucial to conserve oxygen.
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