How to survive if you drive into a body of water

About 400 people die every year from drowning in a car in the United States. In most cases, people do not survive because they do not know what to do. Here’s what you need to know.

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Your car falls into a body of water, you are inside, and you panic. This is of course logical, except that it is precisely this panic that you must avoid at all costs in order to get out of such a perilous situation. Here is some advice from an expert on everything you need to know to avoid drowning in a car.

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Mistakes to avoid

Firstly, as you will have understood, keep calm (as much as you can). Panic prevents you from thinking things through, and in this case, it can be fatal.

One of the most common mistakes is to call a relative. While this may sound strange, in many situations the person on the other end of the line will be slow to arrive or worse, will not know how to handle the situation.

It is also useless to roll up the windows to preserve oxygen because, in addition to not working, you will panic when you see water filling the interior of the car.

Another mistake to avoid is waiting for the interior to fill with water. Victims think this is a good idea so that they can equalise the pressure with the water and then get out of the car. Again, this method is too risky because it takes time and the victim is likely to lose consciousness due to lack of oxygen before he or she can open the door.

What to do to survive

Now that you know what not to do, let's look at the advice put forward by Dr Gordon Giesbrecht from the University of Manitoba. The doctor puts forward a four-step solution. His method is taught to people responding to calls for help in Florida and takes only 30 to 60 seconds, which is enough time to escape death.

  1. Unfasten your seat belt
  2. Roll down all the windows next to the passengers. If not, break them, even if water is beginning to enter the car
  3. Get children out of the car through the open windows, from the biggest to the smallest, for weight reasons. If the rear windows of the car do not roll down or if you do not have enough time to break them, get the front passenger out first to clear the way, and then those in the back
  4. Swim as far away from the vehicle as possible. Otherwise, you could be sucked down into it

Finally, to ensure survival and never let yourself be surprised by such an accident, always keep in your car a small emergency hammer, a screwdriver, or any other object capable of breaking the window, and scissors to cut the seatbelt in case of blockage.

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