According to reports, every year, on an average about 400 people die in the United States alone because of drowning in their cars. This number can be reduced substantially once people are well aware of the facts related to escaping a sinking car.
The first and the foremost thing is to get out quickly. All you get is about a minute to escape alive according to Gordon Geisbrecht of University of Manitoba. He is a trainer and trains mainly the law enforcement officers on underwater vehicle escape.
According to him, there are five golden rules that you need to follow in the highly unlikely situation of being in a submerging vehicle.
#1: Don’t try to call emergency help before you get out of the car. This is because you don’t get enough time to search out for the phone, dial the number and get a dialogue going. “Time is critical,” says Geisbrecht. “If you touch your cell phone you’re probably going to die.”
#2: Unbuckle. It sounds basic but people often forget to do that while in emergency
#3: Don’t open the door; rather, roll down the window. Opening the door will let the water in very quickly and will make the sinking process faster. You will probably get something between 30 seconds and a minute before the water reaches at the base of the window. This period is a so-called the float period after which the water will press with all the force and it will be nearly impossible to roll the glass down.
A caution regarding rule #3 There might be a situation where you will be forced to break the window. Many modern vehicles have electronic windows that may get damaged by water before you have a chance to roll them down. In this particular case, you have no other option than to break the glass with some heavy tool. Two such common and popular tools are the LifeHammer which has a hardened-steel point to break the window, and the ResQMe keychain which places a spring-loaded weight into the window to shatter it. For underwater scenario, they will be useless unless you keep them handy and use them immediately.