Vehicle Submerged in Deep Water

Always avoid driving through deep water. Your vehicle – and you – can be swept away in seconds if the water has any type of current. If you cannot tell if there is a pothole under a small puddle, why would you drive through water that’s a foot deep? Any time you approach a flooded area, plan to change your route and go around the deep water if you can. If there is absolutely no way to change course, examine the situation. Look at street signs, mail boxes, and other vehicles. Get a sense for the actual depth of the water. If you must drive through, do so slowly. If there are other vehicles ahead of you, try to drive in the “wake” a lead vehicle creates. Just don’t follow too closely. Be aware that your vehicle can stall if you drive through water that is too deep. And, of course, once you exit the deep water,  you absolutely need to test your brakes.
Not all water is rain water and not all deep water comes from temporarily flooded streets. If you lose control of your vehicle for any reason, you may find yourself in your car and sinking in a pond, river, or lake. Now things are serious:

  • Easy for us to say but remain as calm as you can.
  • Release your seatbelts. Now is one time you do not want to be restrained.
  • Direct all passengers to exit your vehicle. It might be floating now, but in anywhere from thirty seconds to a minute, the car will begin to submerge.
  • Call for help AFTER you exit the vehicle. Every second counts.
  • Open a door if you can but a window might be easier and better. Expect the car to fill with water so be ready.
  • If the window won’t roll down, kick it open. You need an escape route.
  • If you are fully submerged, opening a door may become easier because the water pressure both inside and outside of the vehicle will be the same.
  • Because the engine is in the front of most vehicles, expect the back of the car to be the end that sinks last. Getting into the back and out a rear side window may be the best option. Just make sure you get out.

While this onboard emergency is rare, it never hurts to be prepared. Just like carrying a fire extinguisher is a good idea, so is having other emergency equipment. You can purchase inexpensive tools that cut through seatbelt straps or break window glass. There are even combination tools that do both of those things and more. Consider carrying them in your vehicle.

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