Tips for Escaping a Sinking Car in the Winter as Quickly and Safely as Possible in Indiana

Toy SUV sinking in a splash of waterIt’s something everyone has seen in a movie or show, especially around this time of year; a vehicle slides on an icy, unplowed road and plummets into a nearby pond. Bodies of water in the wintertime plunge to sometimes below freezing temperatures, making submersion accidents some of the most fatal. There are an estimated 80,000 submersion victims annually in the United States. Having an adequate self-rescue plan is the only way to properly prepare yourself and your family if tragedy strikes.

1. Remain Calm

If your vehicle has landed in a body of water, you should have 1-3 minutes before the car is completely submerged. Properly utilizing these moments is crucial for survival. Remain calm and quickly unbuckle yourself and any children or passengers in the car. Move all passengers of the vehicle to the front seat for a quicker and more organized evacuation.

2. Use the Windows to Escape a Submerged Car, Not the Doors

Do not open the doors. Understandably, this can be a natural first instinct if you are in a vehicle that has just landed in the water. Opening the doors of a soon-to-be submerged vehicle can be extremely difficult, consuming the little time you have before the car begins to sink. An open door can also cause rapid flooding in the vehicle, making the time window for a quick and safe escape much shorter. Icy water can cause extreme hypothermia so avoiding being submerged in it is vital. Instead, the Indiana State Police has recommended that you should open the windows in the vehicle. Unless there was extravagant damage to the vehicle, both automatic and manual windows should function if opened immediately after the car crashes into the water. In the event that windows are not functioning, try breaking them with your feet.

3. Time Is of the Essence When Escaping a Sinking Car

Within 30 seconds to 1 minute of landing in water the car's electrical systems—like power windows—begin to short. Within 1-3 minutes, the car could be completely submerged. Acting quickly and keeping this timeline in mind is crucial for survival.

4. Escape Quickly and Calmly

If the water is cold, try to remain on the part of the car that has not been submerged, typically the rear bumper or trunk. Rescue can sometimes take a while so to avoid hypothermia you must stay out of freezing or cold waters. Wait there for help. If you absolutely must, or if the water is too deep, swim quickly to shore and seek emergency help. Do not return to the vehicle for belongings.

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