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What Would You Do If Your Car Became Submerged in a Waterway?

In a recent local car accident, the driver plunged off the freeway and into the river. Luckily for that young woman, the vehicle stopped in the mudflats near the mouth of the San Diego River before it became submerged, missing the water by just a few feet.

Given the number of waterways in and around San Diego County, it is important for drivers to understand what to do should their vehicle become submerged following a car accident.

Since knowing what to do is often the key to survival, please carefully read the tips listed below:

  • The heaviest end of a vehicle will sink first – the engine. Depending on how well sealed a vehicle is, it can float from 30 seconds to about four minutes.
  • Drivers should unbuckle their seat belt and tell occupants to do the same.
  • Unlock the doors and roll the windows down to equalize the pressure and create an escape route. Most electrical systems can function for some time while the vehicle is sinking.
  • If the windows will not open, allow the vehicle to fill up enough to equalize the pressure and press against a door and open it. Try another one if necessary.
  • Consider purchasing safety tools that can be kept in a vehicle. Used like a hammer, a center punch can break windows under water. There are also seat belt cutters that consist of a razor blade in a plastic sheath. Some combine a center punch and a seat belt cutter in one accessible tool.