How to escape from a sinking or underwater car

SHARE How to escape from a sinking or underwater car

A Bolingbrook woman died in her car in a Romeoville retention pond Monday | (Network Video Productions)

It’s a terrifying situation no motorist expects to find themselves in — submerged in water, trapped behind the wheel, and sinking fast.

But as three retention pond incidents in the Chicago area in the last week have shown that it can and does happen, all too often with fatal consequences.

In the most recent, a 31-year-old mom and one of her two kids are in critical condition after they were pulled from an SUV that was submerged in an Aurora pond for half an hour early Wednesday morning.Two days earlier, Bolingbrook residentCynthia Breig, 33, died after her Honda Accord ended up in a Romeoville pond.And on Saturday, authorities recovered the body of Michael Hernandez from his car, which had sunk following an accident in a Crown Point, Indiana pond.

So what should you do if you find yourself in your car, sinking?

1. Don’t call 911 — you need to act fast and your cellphone probably won’t save you, according to the University of Manitoba’s Gordon Geisbrecht, who trains law enforcement officers and others on underwater-vehicle escape.

2. Stay calm. Panicking wastes oxygen, a limited resource in a sinking car.

3. Unbuckle your seatbelt, then release your children. A rival theory suggests you stay buckled up until you affect your escape, because it makes it easier to tether yourself while you maneuver and it reduces the risk of injury from inrushing water, but Geisbrecht says his studies show a higher success rate for those who unbuckle themselves

4. The door will likely be impossible to open, due to the pressure of the water. So roll down the window as fast as you can.In a modern car, the electrics that operate the window and the central locking will probably fail in the water, so you need to act quickly to unlock the doors and open the window. If it’s too late, and the electrics are already out, you’ll wish you had an emergency glass hammer for breaking the window. It’s much easier to break a side window than the windshield, which is reinforced.

5. If you can get out through the window, get out and swim to safety! Hang on to kids who can’t swim, or give them something that floats to grab.

6. If the rush of water prevents you from getting out of the window, or you are already completely submerged, wait. When the car completely fills with water, the pressure inside and outside of the car will equalize, allowing you to open the door. Take one last deep breath as the car fills up, then open the door and swim out.

The Latest
Before the game, the Sky honored Bird with a pregame video and a pair of custom-made Nike Air Force 1 sneakers.
The awards recognize “journalism that best covers the Black experience or addresses issues affecting the worldwide Black community.”
The Cubs claimed Reyes off waivers from the Guardians and optioned Frank Schwindel to Triple-A Iowa to clear space on the active roster.