Vehicles leaving the road and landing in deep water cause more than 400 deaths each year. Plunging into water is an extremely terrifying experience and it is easy to panic.
It is important to try to stay calm and assess the situation.
Remove Safety Belt
Your chances of surviving the initial impact of the water are greatly improved if you use your safety belt.
After hitting the water you should remove your safety belt as soon as possible. If there are children in the car, unbuckle the oldest child first and then the smaller younger ones. The older children should require less assistance to safety than the smaller ones.
While Your Vehicle is Floating
Your car will only float on the surface for 30 seconds up to several minutes. If windows and/or doors are open it will sink faster than if windows and/or doors are closed. You should, however, never waste time trying to call for help. You must make every attempt to get out of the vehicle immediately.
Windows – Your Primary Escape Route
Because of the nose-down position in the water, it is usually very hard or even impossible to open a door. Roll down windows as soon as possible. Power windows may short out, but usually works as long as needed. Escape through the open window.
Once out of the vehicle, you may become disoriented underwater. Follow the air bubbles to reach the surface.
When Windows Do Not Open
If you cannot get the door or window open you will have to wait until the pressure inside and outside the vehicle is equal. When the water along the window is to your shoulder, try to open the door. If you are able to, there will still be a rush of water coming into the vehicle. Try not to panic. Take a deep breath, and then leave the vehicle.
A Pocket of Air
If you cannot open the door or window, there will be a small air pocket near the part of the vehicle which is highest in the water, usually the back seat. If you cannot get a side window open, move to the air pocket, take a breath and kick the window out – or use a tool to break the window.
Never try to break or kick out the windshield. Windshields are now designed with glass that does not shatter. Other windows are usually made with tempered glass and will shatter easier.