How to get out of a submerged vehicle – this could save your life

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Action News had an article recently pertaining to traffic drowning deaths.  According to statistics, Florida leads the country in the number of traffic drowning deaths. Each year there are about 1,200 to 1,500 submerged vehicle incidents in the U.S. with about 400 to 600 resulting in death.  In the past several months, there have been several traffic accidents in Northeast Florida that resulted in a submerged vehicle.  Thus, I thought this investigation that Action News did was informative and educational for all residents of this area.

Action News reporter Amanda Warford found out how others can have a fighting chance at getting out alive since it only takes about 60 seconds for a car to nearly disappear under water.  The news agency had David Scoggins who is a former fire fighter and now trains rescue divers across the country, assist Warford in a demonstration. Action News took a Nissan, that had the oil and fluids drained from it, and hooked it to the back of a tow truck right next to a large local retention pond. Scoggins said the first thing to do is to start rolling down the window and undo your seatbelt. He said there will be water coming in, but you can pull past it.

Action News also interviewed Marshal Adkison, of Adkison Towing who is also a diver and  helps local law enforcement in emergency rescues and recoveries. He said a car battery can last for several minutes under water, but every situation is different.  A window can also be broken if it won’t go down. Just make sure you clear the window and hit it in the dead center. Once it is broken, it is important to use a tool to clear the bottom before you have to start climbing out of the vehicle.

Preparation and speed, both Adkison and Scoggins said that’s what makes the difference, when you have only seconds to escape.

Canadian researcher Gordon Giesbrecht, a professor of thermophysiology at the University of Manitoba, has spent the last eight years sinking cars with people in them to determine the best way for drivers and passengers to escape. After 100 tests, with the help of his PhD student Gerren McDonald, Giesbrecht has developed a simple but crucial protocol for escaping before it’s too late: seatbelt, window, children, out. Unbuckle your seatbelt, get a window down (the rear passenger windows are ideal if they open because the heavy front of a car will tilt into the water first so the back seat stays dryer longer), unbuckle any children (start with the oldest first so they can escape while you’re unbuckled any infants), and get out through the open window.

Giesbrecht told ABC News that people have to get out of the vehicle before the water gets up against the windows, and that’s really in the first 30 to 60 seconds. That means, don’t reach for your cell phone when you hit the water. So remember, get that seatbelt off, get that window down, and get out.

Read more about how to arrive alive: how to get out of a submerged vehicle: http://alerts.nationalsafetycommission.com/2010/03/arrive-alive-how-to-get-out-of.php

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