Videos – How to Escape a Sinking Car: 4 Simple Steps

Collier County Sherriff’s Office (English)

Collier County Sherriff’s Office (Spanish) – Cómo escapar de un carro que se esta hundiendo

What to Do: Car Sinking in Water, Only Seconds to React – ABC Nightline

Escape sinking car: two people and baby – Collier County Sheriff’s Office

Escape sinking car: two people and baby – Collier County Sheriff’s Office

What If You Had 30 Seconds to Save Your Life? ABC World News with Diane Sawyer

What If You Had 30 Seconds to Save Your Life? ABC Nightline

Vehicle Submersion Safety Tips – video produced by Collier County Sheriff’s Office/Efrain Hernandez

How to Escape a Sinking Car: 4 Simple Steps – Every year, as many as 400 people drown in vehicles.

The following are the action points from Dr. Gordon Giesbrecht* on how to save yourself and your children should your car end up in a canal or river:

  • His No. 1 –  When your car goes underwater, don’t touch your cellphone. The first minute is crucial, and it’s a waste of your time trying to call 911, he said.
  • Seat belts
  • Windows
  • Children–  Children should be helped out of the car from oldest to youngest. After rolling down the windows, older children should be told to swim out and hold onto the car so parents can help younger ones out of car seats.
  • Out!

If you are not able to open the windows, Dr. Giesbrecht recommends to carry a simple window-breaking device in your vehicle (ResQme). The tool, a spring-loaded center punch, is pressed into a corner of the window. One or two simple pushes and the window shatters. Giesbrecht recommends the devices be easily accessible and in the open, perhaps hanging from the rear view mirror.

Car manufacturers are installing much stronger laminated glass, not just on the front windshield, but on every window in the vehicle, so the ResQme and other tools may not work appropriately, so please check with the manufacture of vehicle.

• Hammer-type devices and spring-loaded window punches are NOT effective on laminated glass. Most front car windshields are made of laminated glass.
• If glass is tempered, use an escape tool in a bottom corner of a side window for breakage.
• Check your vehicle’s manual or contact your car’s manufacturer to determine vehicle’s glass type.

Again the message is:

WINDOWS open, try the back side window first
CHILDREN remove seatbelts, from the oldest to the youngest

*Dr. Gordon Giesbrecth,
Associate Dean (External Relations)
Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management
University of Manitoba – Canada

An internationally known expert on cold-water survival, submerge vehicle protocols and safety.

Dr. Giesbrecht operates the Laboratory for Exercise and Environmental Medicine where he studies human responses to exercise/work in extreme environments. He has conducted hundreds of cold-water immersion studies that have provided valuable information about cold stress physiology and pre-hospital care for human hypothermia. His recent work on Operation ALIVE (Automobile submersion: Lessons in Vehicle Escape) involving vehicle submersions with volunteers in them, provide the basis for new escape and emergency response strategies. He has conducted 100+ submerged vehicles demonstration.


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