Tragic news this month out of Tennessee as flash flooding has killed an elderly man and left a 6 year old boy presumed dead. Both were trapped in vehicles that rapidly filled with water while attempting to cross a flooded roadway.
The child was exiting the submerged car with his Mother when she lost grip. Five others escaped the accident with minor injuries.
The somber moment offers an opportunity to help others caught in similar circumstances. Here are some basic tips on how to best escape a vehicle submerged in water.
Keep The Door Closed
You’ll waste valuable seconds trying to force open a door against water pressure. According to experts who train law enforcement personnel on underwater rescue the first minute is vital to escape. Anything longer and you’re chances of survival are minimized.
There’s no time to worry about an auto glass quote right now. You’re sinking and the power locks you splurged for are likely shorted out. As the water level rises, so does the pressure, sometimes making it impossible to even roll down the window manually.
So break the window. Use a blunt force object such as a hammer if handy. Kicking the window usually works great, but can be difficult under stress.
Get out through the side windows, never the windshield. Too thick.
Don’t Wait Until The Car Is Equalized
Haven’t you ever seen Mythbusters? The popular program dispelled the falsehood that one should wait until pressure levels are equal inside and outside the vehicle. Hogwash. Your best chances of survival in the event of this nightmare are in the first 30 seconds.
Waiting for the car to fill up so you may open the door is foolish. Don’t do it.
Be Prepared To Hold Your Breath
There will be a scary moment where you’ll have to take a breath and go under to escape. Take a deep breath, go under and float to the surface. Fast.
Screw The Cell Phone
We only include this simple tip because there are documented cases of victims calling 911 as their car fills with water. Not a good time to jump on the smart phone. Focus on unbuckling and breaking windows.
Don’t Leave Your Seat Belt On
Some recommend leaving your seat belt on until the final moment so it acts as a tether. I think that’s non-sense and a specialist in cold water submersion agrees. Take the seat belt off right away, you’ll need the mobility while the car fills with water (usually takes 1 minute).
Becoming frantic will get you killed faster than actually drowning. Process what is happening. Then act decisively. Open the window as quickly as possible after impact. By any means necessary.
Save The Children
Same procedure as on the RMS Titanic. Save the children first. Kids are likely to be weaker swimmers and prone to panic. Get the youngest passengers out before saving yourself.
In light of the recent news from Middle Tennesse there is no better time to ready yourself for a flash flood survival situation. 11,000 motorists per year find themselves in a vehicle trapped underwater. If you’re one of the unfortunate, be ready to act.
Check out the Mythbusters video: