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How to Escape From a Sinking Car


Roll down the windows as soon as the car hits the water. This will allow water to pour into the car and equalize the inner and outer pressure on the door. This is your most likely escape route.


Break out windows that will not open all the way with a strong kick or a heavy object such as an emergency hammer, tire iron or anti-theft device. Shield your exposed skin and eyes from the glass shards when the window breaks to avoid injury.


Release your seatbelt immediately and climb out the front window. If your seatbelt is jammed, use a knife, glass shard wrapped in fabric or anything else you have handy to cut the seat belt. Push children out ahead of you.


Wait until the car is nearly filled with water if you are unable to climb through the window. When the water is nearly to your head, take as deep a breath as possible, hold it, and use your legs to push the door open. Swim away from the car and to the surface.

Tips and Warnings

  • Stay calm. Depending on the size of the car and how water-tight the door and trunk seals are, you may only have seconds to escape before the car will fill with water. Panicking wastes time--in this case, it could be the difference between life and death.
  • Even though the car will usually sink front-end first because of the weight of the engine, stay in the front seat-front windows tend to be larger and are more likely to lower completely into the door.
  • Do not attempt to rescue anything from the car except other people.

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