One of the most dangerous and scariest emergency situations out there is being trapped in water. Every year in the US, there are about 200 flooding-related deaths, half of these are vehicle-related deaths.
While flooding is inevitable, drowning in a vehicle-related tragedy doesn't have to be. Here are some tips that could save your life.
The best way to not drown is to not get yourself in a dangerous situation. Be smart, be cautious, and don't take risks.
Evacuate areas when advised. Trying to get out of an unsafe area once waters have risen is obviously dangerous. Have an emergency pack ready at all times so you can throw it in your car and get to safe ground when you are warned to leave.
Respect low water crossing signs. Some areas have signs, some areas have signs with measuring sticks to show you how deep the water is. Either way, NEVER cross rushing waters. It takes about 8-10 inches of water to sweep your car away.
Don't put too much trust in your car. All weather tires? Those won't help. Over-sized, lifted tires? Those act as flotation devices and can be more dangerous than small tires. No matter how high your car is lifted, or how great your tires are, tires can't grip water. You will float away and your car will fill with water.
Be aware of rivers, creeks, etc. Stay away from these areas. The best way to fill your car with water is to drive close to swollen waterways. With dips and crests in land around bodies of water, you never know where to trust roads. Just stay away from them during heavy rains.
In fact, there is one state that can hold you financially liable for ignoring warnings and driving through low water crossings. Arizona has a "Stupid Motorist Law" that can make drivers liable for up to $2000 to pay for their rescues. That, on top of insurance deductibles and raised premiums, might make motorists think twice about driving through dangerous waters. (If risking their lives isn't enough to deter them.)
If You Do Get Caught
Whether it be human error or unforeseen circumstances, you might still find yourself caught in a perilous water emergency. If you do, here are some steps to get yourself to safety.
Open your window. The pressure from the water will be too much for you to open your door. Water is going to come in fast and hard regardless of an open window, so before you start rescuing yourself or your family open your window.
If you don't open your window immediately, the pressure of the water and a frozen electrical system may make it impossible to do so. Have a tool in your console or glove box like THIS so you can always break your window. If you don't have a tool, pull your headrest out and use the metal rods to attempt to break the window.
Get Out! Do not collect your purse. Do not get search for anything else. Get out. A car filling with water is dark and dangerous. If you have kids in the car, it obviously makes it harder, especially if they are too small to get out themselves. Remember- before you get them out ROLL DOWN THE WINDOW. Then jump in the back and grab them as fast as you can. Hold on to each child as you get other kids out.
Get on top of the car. The safest place will be on top of the car. It is actually not easy to get on top of a car through a car window, especially if it's been broken out. Still, it is your best bet for rescue. If possible, stay on the car until help comes. If you can distribute weight, adjust yourself so the car is balanced. Rushing water is full of debris and various currents, which is why it's best to be out of the water.
Tools to Keep in Your Car
Truthfully, if your car is filling with water, you won't have much time to go rifling through it for emergency kits. But, there are a couple things you can have that will be helpful if they are easily accessible. If you can have these items attached to each other for easy accessibility, even better.
- Window Breaker A window breaker with a flashlight and seatbelt cutter can help you in the dark water get your kids out safely.
- Paracord Rope is always a good idea. If you can have paracord attached to your window breaker, you can use that rope to tether your body to something safe.
For a video tutorial, click HERE.