It’s something most people don’t want to think about, but with heavy spring rains making flooding rivers more likely, it’s important to know how to get out of your car if it were submerged underwater. About 400 people every year die from drowning related auto accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Using your Door
Getting out of your car as quickly as possible is important because, according to Autoblog, for every foot your car sinks underwater, an additional 850 pounds of pressure push against your door making it practically impossible to open.
According to Autoblog, there are two ways you can get out of your car using the door, once you hit the water.
Option 1, takes plenty of calm breathing and a bit of patience. If you can, calmly allow the car to fill up with water. Stay calm, and right before the water covers your head, take a deep breath. Allow your car to fill completely with water and then push your door open and escape. Letting your car to fill up will water will depressurize it, making it much easier to escape, Mike Donoghue, a member of Amphibious Medic said, in the video at the end of the article.
In addition, you could roll down your window to allow the pressure in the car to equalize faster, however you need to roll the window down before the water hits the window or the pressure will keep the window shut tight.
The risks inherent in this method depend on your ability to stay calm and the shock of the cold water, once your car begins to fill up.
Option 2 says to open the door as soon as your car hits the water. This allows you to push the door open before the pressure gets too intense. The danger in this option is that the increasing pressure could push against the door, potentially trapping you between the door and the car as you go under. So you need to move quickly. The trick in this method is to open the door before the water gets too deep or the pressure will make it impossible to open. If you can open your door quickly and get out, do it.
Using your Window:
Breaking the window, is a last resort move. If you cannot get your door open, you can break your side window and climb out.
Your car windows are made from two different types of glass, tempered glass on the side windows and annealed glass, according to SmarterEveryDay. Your side windows are designed to be strong in the middle (to protect your head), but not so much on the sides. If you hit the corner of the glass in your side windows, it will shatter. Your windshield, is designed to withstand enormous amounts of pressure, to protect you in an accident, it’s also going to be much more difficult to break out.
Consider purchasing a center punch. This lets you break the side window in the middle, by exerting and large amount of centralized pressure, shattering the window so you can escape. You can also use a screwdriver or other hard object to smash the corners of the window.
Your car is designed to protect your while on the road. Strong glass and excellent construction make your car safe to drive on the roads, but it can turn into a trap if you find yourself in the water. Stay calm and be prepared so you can escape if the unthinkable happens.
When possible, avoid driving during severe storms and never drive your car when you are tired or under the influence of alcohol or other substances. The NHSTA reported that about 44 percent of drowning victims had been under the influence of alcohol.