• Hurricane safety: Here's what to do if your car is swept away by water

    By: Cox Media Group National Content Desk

    Updated:

    Keeping a cool head and remembering these tips may save your life if your vehicle is ever overcome by water. 

    According to a 2006 study, as many as 400 people drown in North America in cars that are submerged in water.

    Because seconds matter, especially after your car is submerged, it’s important that you stay calm and follow these steps.

    Brace for impact

    If you know you’re going into a lake or river, it’s important to brace yourself for impact to avoid serious injury before you attempt your escape.

    Keep your hands at “ten and two” on the steering wheel so if the airbag inflates, you will avoid serious injury to your head and extremities.

    While your vehicle is floating

    Immediately undo your seat belt and then unbuckle any children starting with the oldest child first. Older children can help unbuckle any younger passengers.

    Unlock the doors and open windows:

    Even though a door is not considered the best way to exit a vehicle until it’s fully submerged, it’s important to unlock them while your electrical system is still functioning.

    According to WikiHow, try to open a window right after you enter the water. If your electrical system is not functioning, use an object to break the glass. The headrests in most cars can be removed and the metal inserts may break the glass. Do not attempt to break the windshield because the safety glass is designed to break in a manner that would make it hard to escape through.

    Some other suitable objects to break the glass include steering wheel locks, tools, keys or window-breaking tools that are typically hammer-shaped. 

    Escape

    After taking a deep breath, try to escape through the window. If you have children in the vehicle, push them out first. If they can’t swim, give them an object that floats and tell them not to let go of it.

    Swim

    As you escape the vehicle, try not to kick in a manner that might injure others escaping. If you’re submerged when you escape, follow the bubbles to the surface.

    Get help

    Most water can be cold enough that hypothermia can occur even after a short period underwater. Additionally, you may experience shock or injuries from the accident. Once you have reached the edge of the water, seek medical attention immediately.

    It’s important to note that while water caused by flooding or storm surge may appear on a known route, motorists should never intentionally drive into high water.

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