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How To Escape From a Sinking Car


With winter on its way, it’s good to be prepared for the inevitable hazards that Jack Frost will bring.

There’re countless survival scenarios that are altogether unique to winter, and many of you will probably experience various degrees of snow, ice, frost, high winds, and freezing temperatures depending upon where you live.

For the millions of individuals who travel by automobile, there exists one scenario that is so frightening and deadly, that it’s mentioned every time winter rears its ugly head.

We’re talking of course, about falling through ice or open water while inside of a motor-vehicle.

The thought of being trapped inside a steel coffin while frigid water buries you slowly alive is enough to trigger a claustrophobic response of your autonomic nervous system. Icy roads and bridges are not rare during the winter, so your risk of accidentally careening off the road onto water increases ten-fold. Frightening stuff indeed.

Thankfully, there are 5 actionable steps that you can take should you find yourself in this type of a scenario this winter (but let’s hope you never do). These steps could increase your odds of survival, but following them you must act quickly!

Step #1 – Hold off on calling 911

Calling 911 will take up precious time – time that you do not have if your vehicle is sinking. Every second that passes could determine whether you live or die. If you decide to call, it will most likely be the very last phone call you will ever make.

Step #2 – Unbuckle your seat belt

It seems logical, but in a fight or flight scenario it’s easy to forget little details. When it comes to survival, forgetting details will get you killed! You must unbuckle your seat belt if you plan to escape the vehicle alive.

Step #3 – Forget opening the doors and instead roll down the window or attempt to break the window if the door’s electrics are shorted.

The pressure from the outside water will be far too great to open your vehicle doors. Do not attempt to open them as you will lose precious energy and strength. Instead, attempt to roll down the windows immediately. If your vehicle has automatic doors and you find that the water has shorted the window motor, you will probably need to break the window.

If you’re forced to break the window, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to do it with your hands or feet. Again, the water pressure outside of the vehicle will make this very difficult. It’s a good idea to keep a window breaking tool inside your vehicle at all times. These are small devices that can shatter windows with ease, whether they’re above water or under!

Step #4 – Help any children out of the vehicle

Small children are likely to be too weak or frightened to escape themselves. Make sure to unbuckle any children within the vehicle and guide them out of the vehicle through a door or window.

Step #5 – Exit the vehicle and swim to safety

Once you are unbuckled and have created an exit from the vehicle, it’s important to GET OUT as quickly as possible. Icy water can cause deadly hypothermia.

Bonus: If you find that you CANNOT open your doors, roll down your windows, or break your windows, it’s suggested that you wait until water completely fills your vehicle to allow the pressure on the outside and inside of the vehicle to regulate. Once this happens, you should be able to muscle the vehicle’s doors open much easier.

This method is very risky as you will most likely have to hold your breath for an extended period. As such, it should only be used as a last resort!

IMG_9046” by Kalvin Chan is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Frozen Canals, Beijing” by is licensed under CC BY 2.0