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If you've ever wondered how to escape a car underwater

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What the heck would you do if your car crashed into a body of water and began sinking fast? Would you have a clue as to how to get out of such a calamitous situation? You can escape a sinking car but you have to react quickly in order to survive.

The National Highway and Transportation Administration states that about 400 folks die a year in this country from drowning in their vehicles. If you do ever wind up in a submerged vehicle, experts guesstimate that you'll have a mere 60 seconds to make it out alive.

Not much time at all!

Car Chick spoke with Gordon Giesbrecht, Ph.D., professor of kinesiology and recreation management at the University of Manitoba in Canada, who is an expert on vehicle immersion escape. He offers some tips on how not to go down with your sinking car and wants you to keep this in mind--Don’t panic, don’t touch your cell phone, and remember 4 words: Seatbelts, Windows, Children, Out.

1) Don't even think about dialing 911 on your cell phone, it takes way too long and time is of the essence. You can summon the authorities after all is said and done and you've made it safely back to terra firma!

2) Unbuckle your seatbelt immediately or possibly remain pinned in.

3) According to Dr. Giesbrecht you'll have only one minute before the water rises high enough to push against the window so that it can't open. So open your window, preferably a back one because the front will submerge first. Don't however, open your door because it will only cause your vehicle to sink even more quickly and it will slam shut potentially trapping you.

Late model vehicles have electronically controlled windows. If you failed to open a window quickly the circuits will eventually short out after they come in contact with water. So you'll have to break a window in order to get out to safety. This is only likely with an actual window breaker such as a hammer or spring-loaded center punch.

LifeHammer (www.lifehammer.com)will crack a window and ResQMe (resqme.com/US) center punch, shatters glass; either tool should be kept in a spot that is visible and within reach before your vehicle is submerged because they won't serve their purpose when your car is underwater; a perfect solution is to hang it from your rear view mirror.

4) Children. Release children, or others who need help, from their seatbelts and instruct them to get out through the window; start with the oldest as they may be able to get out themselves giving you more space and time to deal with younger more dependent children.

5) Once you've gotten that window down, climb out through it immediately.

The bottom line according to Dr. Giesbrecht is to get control of yourself and not lose your sanity which will be extremely difficult once your car is underwater. A submerged vehicle is a frightening experience that can unnerve anyone but if you manage to keep calm and follow these intructions, you can survive this harrowing situation.

Check out Dr. Giesbrecht's video on "How to Escape A Sinking Car"

--Car Chick®

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