Escaping from submerged vehicle

There was a story in the local news today about a missing older man who ended up being found in his car, submerged in a lake near a boat launch. Investigators are still piecing together what events led up to the car going into the lake. I do hear stories about this from time to time, usually as a result of the car going off the road in bad weather.

So, how do you escape from a submerged vehicle?

First, try to remain calm. You’ll have several minutes of air in the car with you. As the car is sinking to the bottom, unlatch your seat belt.

The doors won’t open due to the weight of the water against them, so don’t bother struggling with them. You’ll need to exit the vehicle through a window. If you have crank windows, open one of them, allowing the water to come in. However, if you have electric windows, they probably won’t work because of water getting into the electrical system. If that’s the case, you’ll have to break a window open. If you’ve had the foresight to keep an Emergency Hammer in the car, use that to break a window. If not, you’ll have to kick out a window. Don’t try to kick your foot through the window as that could lead to lacerations. Instead, use both feet to push steadily on a window until it breaks.

Water will be rushing in and this will hinder any attempt to climb out right away. Let the water fill the vehicle as you take deep breaths of the remaining air. Once the vehicle is mostly full, you’ll be able to climb through the open window and swim to the surface.

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Jim Cobb

Jim Cobb has been a student of survivalism and emergency preparedness for almost thirty years. As a young child, he drove his parents nuts with stockpiling supplies in the basement every time he heard there was a tornado watch in his area. Of course, being a child, those supplies consisted of his teddy bear, a few blankets and pillows, and random canned goods he grabbed from the kitchen cabinets. Later, he was the first (and likely only) child in his fifth grade class to have bought his very own copy of Life After Doomsday by Bruce Clayton. Today, he is a freelance writer whose work has been published in national magazines such as Boy’s Life and Complete Survivalist Magazine. He is a voracious reader with a keen interest in all stories with post-apocalyptic settings. He maintains the Library at the End of the World blog and is also the Content Director for He currently resides in a fortified bunker in the upper Midwest, accompanied by his lovely wife and their three adolescent Weapons of Mass Destruction. Jim's first book, Prepper's Home Defense, was published late 2012 and his second book, tentatively titled The Prepper's Complete Guide to Disaster Readiness, will be out in mid-2013, both coming from Ulysses Press.

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