The idea of drowning is terrifying.
Sadly, in many cases, drownings could have been easily avoided if the victim had been better educated on how to survive.
It’s estimated that around 400 people drown each year by being stuck in a sinking car.
The Two Most Fatal Mistakes
In most instances of being stuck in a sinking car, the victim tries calling 911 as their car sinks in the hope of being rescued in time. Sadly, some dispatchers don’t know how to handle the situation and their victim drowns while waiting for help.
Other victims choose to wait for their cars fill up with water (and equalize with the pressure exerted by the water in the lake) before opening their car door and swimming away.
Unfortunately, this tactic takes a long time and most people pass out from oxygen depletion before they can open the door.
It’s also important not to close the windows in hope of trapping an air bubble. Not only does this plan not work, but it can also cause you to panic and lose air as the water rises.
The Simple Solution
In an attempt to save lives, Dr. Gordon Giesbrecht from the University of Manitoba has devised a 4-step process that he is currently teaching to first responders and dispatchers in Florida. The process only takes about 30 seconds and it can mean the difference between life and death if you ever find yourself stuck in a sinking car.
- Unbuckle your seatbelt.
- Open all the windows near your passengers or break them open as the water flows in.
- Grab your children and push them out of the open window. Always start with your oldest child and finish with your youngest. If you’re in an older vehicle where the back windows don’t roll down or you simply don’t have time to break them, let the front seat passengers out first so that they can clear the way and escape.
- Swim away from the vehicle and towards safety.
This simple rescue plan should be shared with your family members to avoid panic in the case of a real emergency and increase everyone’s chance of survival. Think of it as an another part of your emergency preparedness plan, just like your family fire or tornado drill.
It’s also a good idea to purchase a keychain car escape tool at your local hardware store or online. These tools can break a car window and double up to cut your seatbelt if you get stuck.
Not convinced? Here’s what happens if you try to open the door: