Experiencing a car accident is scary enough but being trapped inside a submerged vehicle is nightmarish. The odds of this happening are low but it is best to know what to do if the odds are against you. Most deaths involving submerged vehicles can be prevented if the victim understands how to efficiently react. The following are steps to keep in mind if submerged in a car.
1) Brace Yourself and Unbuckle Upon Impact
Place your hands on the steering wheel in the ‘nine and three’ positions. This helps stabilize you and is the safest position for your hands if the air bag deploys. Stay as calm and focused as possible, and unfasten your seatbelt as soon as the vehicle impacts with the water. If there are children in the vehicle, unbuckle them now too.
2) Open a Window ASAP
Don’t bother struggling with the door since it will be impossible to open until the car is filled with water. If the car is tipped forward and the back doors are not submerged yet, you may be able to open those. However, just beware of child safety locks. If the electrical system is not working, or you cannot manually open a window, you will have to break one. If you don’t have a suitable tool within reach, remove your headrests and break the window with the metal inserts.
3) Get Out Through the Window
Once you break the window open, push out of the vehicle and swim up to the surface. If you have a small child with you, have them hold onto your neck so your arms are not obstructed. An infant must be held, so be prepared to use your legs to swim. Push away from the car with your legs as forcefully as you can to achieve momentum. Swim to the surface as quickly as possible while being aware of your surroundings. There could be obstacles such as pier supports, boats, or even other vehicles.
4) If the Car has Filled with Water…
You have to act fast at this point since you no longer have an air supply. Because there is a tremendous amount of water pressure pushing against the doors, it may be impossible to open them. Focus on breaking a window, then push out of the car and swim quickly to the surface. As stated earlier, pay attention to your surroundings for possible obstacles.
5) You Made It Out!
Once you make it to the surface, get medical attention as soon as possible. It doesn’t need to be that cold for hypothermia to set in. Body temperature can drop to a dangerous level if you’re in water as warm as 70˚F. If you have a small child that was with you in the submerged vehicle, hold them closely against your body in order to share your body heat. Children under the age of four have a higher risk of becoming hypothermic.