How to escape from a sinking car

By Vincent Kejitan | Tuesday, Oct 1st 2019 at 12:31
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Following the accident at the Likoni channel where a car reversed from a ferry and plunged into the water, there have been many theories about what could have been done.

Most of us feel that we can quickly act in such circumstances but the reality is that it happens so quickly and panic will most probably get the better of us.

Below we look at a number of steps you can take immediately your car plunges into the water.

Stay calm

How do you expect me to be calm when my life is at stake? You may ask. Well, it is important to have a clear head so that you can act quickly.

This will also go a long way in helping you not to waste your energy on tasks like breaking the door.

Unfasten your seatbelt and roll down the window

As soon as your car makes contact with the water, unfasten your seatbelt and roll down the window quickly.

Try to vacate the car through the open window before the car is submerged.

Act between 30-120 seconds

According to experts, your best chance of survival/escape is within the first minute since the car might float for close to 2minutes.

Do not try to open the door

Trying to open the door will consume a lot of energy and will not bear fruits because the pressure from outside the car will be greater than the one inside.

Some researchers advise people to wait for the pressure to equalize but this means that the car will have to fill up with water first and acting then might be too late.

(Interestingly, most power windows often remain functional minutes after the car is submerged.)

Break the window if you cannot roll it down

If you are unable to roll down the window just break it. It is important to have special car-window-breaking tools but if you cannot afford one you can always improvise.

Use a heavy object with a pointed tip. A hammer, screwdriver or even a pointed shoe can serve the purpose. You can also use the headrest of your car seats to break the window.

Ensure you hit around the edges.

Let your children get out first

Unfasten your seatbelt, roll down your window, unfasten the child’s seatbelt and help them out through the window.

If there are several children, help them from oldest to youngest since the oldest can assist their younger siblings to safety.

If you cannot use the window, wait until the car fills up with water

This looks like an impossibility but waiting for the pressure inside and outside the car to equalize means you will be able to open the door although you will still use some energy.

Once you open the door, take a deep breath and swim out.

Follow the air bubbles to find your way to the surface

Once a car is submerged, the water around it becomes clouded and visibility is greatly reduced.

To find your way out, swim in the same direction as the rising air bubbles.

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