Don’t PanicEasier said than done, I know. Our body’s natural reaction to a stressful situation is to act stressed. This is not news, but simply breathing in and out slowly for a few seconds can make a world of difference. If you have other people in your car, facing the emergency with a calming presence will help others be more calm as well, and you will be able to act with more intention if you are not panicking.
Unbuckle Your Seat BeltOnce you’ve taken a few seconds to get over the initial shock, unbuckle your seatbelt. Once you are unbuckled, help anyone else who needs help being unbuckled, such as small children.
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Forget About Your Cell PhoneAccording to Dr. Gordon Giesbrecht, from the University of Manitoba, you will not have enough time to call 911 if your car is sinking, so ditch it to concentrate on getting out. Trying to make a phone call will just cost you valuable time in a situation where time is of the essence.
Know Your Options For EscapeYour car window is your escape route. The door will be a no-go once your vehicle hits the water because the pressure will keep you from being able to open it. The window is really your only option. How you exit the window depends on how far submerged your vehicle is by the time you attempt to roll it down. Giesbrecht has stated you have about three minutes to roll down automatic windows before the system stops working.
A smart investment to make now, in case of emergency, is a seat belt cutter/window breaker combo, like this one on Amazon. If you’re past the point of rolling your windows down, you’ll be happy to have a tool like that in your glove compartment. Once the window is broken, you should be able to swim out. Make sure all children exit the vehicle before you. Escaping a sinking car is not something that we ever want to think about, and, I will keep driving the point home that this is not likely to happen to you, but being prepared for worst-case scenarios is always a smart move.
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