It’s hard to imagine ever being trapped in a sinking car during one of those flash floods that often hit KL or driving into a monsoon drain during heavy rains but situations like it could happen to any one of us simply because accidents happen. The main risk of such accidents is drowning, so here’s the thing – if you can escape from your vehicle, you can come to safety as you only have minutes to survive in the water before help arrives. Here are a few points to keep in mind if you’re ever caught in such a situation.
1. Don’t panic
Keeping calm when a vehicle is submerging is your best chance of helping yourself out of the situation. When panic sets in, energy is reduced, precious air is used up and this could cause one to black out and eventually lead to drowning. Fight panic by switching on the interior lights and breathing deeply. Stay focused on getting out of the car the quickest way possible because you have to free yourself first before calling in for emergency help.
2. Get into a brace position
A Brace Position is when both hands are placed on the steering wheel in the “9 – 3” position (like on the face of a clock). In the event of an impact upon vehicle touching the water, the airbag will deploy within 0.04seconds says Perfect Protection Sdn Bhd’s managing director Michael Chong. “If the hands are placed on the “10 – 2” position, it could result in serious injury, preventing you from freeing yourself from the car,” he explains.
Free yourself by unbuckling your seat belt. If it doesn’t unbuckle, cut the belt to free yourself. Be careful not to get yourself entangled in the pieces. If your head restraint is removable, pull them out to make way for easy passage for rear passenger if there is any.
4. Don’t open the car door
Opening the door will get water gush into the vehicle, disabling you from any rescue efforts and the vehicle is going to sink even faster. Opening the door is also very difficult against the exterior pressure. Safe the time and energy and focus on exiting the car through other ways.
5. Break the window
It takes 30 seconds to a minute for water to rise to the bottom of the passenger windows. After that, the water pressure will force the window against the door frame, making it impossible to roll down. If the car window is not winding down break it. Use an emergency hammer but if you don’t have it, anything from a handle lock to a retracted head restraint will do. You can also kick open a window. As front windows are much bigger than rear windows, they make a better escape route.
6. Swim out to surface
Swim or wade out through the broken window to safety. If you’re unable to break open the window, you can wait until the interior and exterior water pressure have equalised so you can open the door to escape. Unless you’re an expert at breathing and holding your breath, it’s best to start finding a way out of the vehicle once you hit the water.