It’s a scenario that most of us don’t ever want to think about - driving into or getting swept away into a lake, pond or river. But every year 400 people die this way in North America.
If you ever do find yourself in this situation, by thinking - and acting - quickly and correctly, you may be able to save your life and the lives of others in the car with you.
Fight the urge to panic, even though you are in a terrifying situation, but work as fast as you can. First and foremost, do not touch your cell phone, although you’ll be tempted to call for help. This first minute is crucial as you don’t have time to call 911, and you’ll need this time to escape, according to Dr. Gordon Giesbrecht, who operates the Laboratory for Exercise and Environmental Medicine at the University of Manitoba where he studies human response in extreme environments.
As soon as your vehicle hits water, unbuckle your seatbelt, roll down your window, and get out. You have about 30 seconds to do this. If there are children in the car, help them out first, from oldest to youngest. Tell the older ones to swim out and hold onto the car above water while you help the younger ones out.
Giesebrecht advises keeping a window-breaking tool clipped to your car’s visor or rearview mirror in case you can’t open your car windows. The special tools have a spring-loaded center punch that you press into the corner of the window, shattering the glass without effort.
Giesebrecht says the idea of waiting for the car to fill with water so you can open the door and escape is a myth, and only loses precious moments that could be used to save your life.
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