Tips to Survive: How to escape a sinking car

ByPamela Parker KGO logo
Tuesday, January 4, 2022
Tips to Survive: How to escape a sinking car
Fire official shares tips on how to escape a sinking car if you ever drive into a flooded roadway.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- As storms move through the Bay Area, flooded roadways are a common occurrence, and with that comes many hidden dangers.

It doesn't take much water to create problems.

Just six inches of moving water can knock over an adult. A foot of water can cause a vehicle to stall. Two feet of water can wash away a vehicle.

If you ever encounter a flooded road, never try and cross it. You have no idea how deep the water may be.

A good rule of thumb is to "turn around, don't drown."

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If you do drive into floodwaters and find yourself in a sinking car, here are a few tips that could save your life:

Tip #1

San Francisco Fire Department Public Information Officer Jonathan Baxter says first and foremost if you see floodwaters, just turn around.

"Just a mere few inches of water during flood times is strong enough to sweep an entire vehicle down into a larger pool of water where you can actually become trapped and even worse can possibly die," said Baxter.

Tip #2

If the door won't open, break the window.

"If you're finding yourself in the predicament of being trapped in a car, you're at a point where you have to make some sound, immediate judgments," said Baxter. "You need to be calm to make those judgments. You need to realize that the pressure outside of your car is going to mean upwards of 600 pounds. You're not going to get your door open, you're not going to get your window busted open."

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Tip #3

You will have to wait until the pressure equalizes in your car to be able to open the door.

"The waters are going to probably be up to your chin. At that point, you got to take a really big breath and try to get that door open because the pressure from the outside of the inside should equalize to allow that to happen," said Baxter.

Tip #4

Try to remember to break a side window and not your windshield.

"If you have to bust a window out try to bust a side window. A windshield is almost impossible (to break) even in normal circumstances," said Baxter.

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Tip #5

Baxter suggests having a tool in your car that car shatter a window.

"But in addition to having that tool in my car, all my family members know how to use it. And they know where it's at, not just me. So a couple of key things in addition to having that tool is making sure everybody knows where it is and everybody knows how to use it," said Baxter.

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