NewsOperation Safe Roads


How to escape your car if you're surrounded by water

Posted at 9:50 PM, Sep 24, 2018

From flooded roads to canals and waterways, we have seen time and time again that cars and water can become a dangerous combination, and quickly. So would you know what to do if you only had seconds to escape?

It is a nightmare scenario many of us never even want to imagine. You are behind the wheel. Your car, stuck in floodwaters. The water is rising and time is running out.

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"That's a decision you have to make, what's safe?" said Mesa Fire Captain Matt Kobylinski. "Is it safer to stay inside your vehicle or exit your vehicle?"

Kobylinski and his colleagues respond to swift water rescues regularly. Most of the time, it's because drivers ignored the mandate to "turn around, don't drown."

"When people dare to cross the roadways, they're really putting their lives at risk along with everybody else that may come to their attention," said Kobylinski.

However, in really dire situations first responders can only do so much. That is when self-rescue may be the best and fastest option.

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"I like the acronym 'POGOS,'" said Kobylinski. "Pop your seatbelt, open up your window, get out and swim to shore."

Sometimes opening the window is easier said than done. That is when the clock starts ticking.

"I would say start thinking, 'I got 15 seconds to work it out and get on out of here,'" said Frank Leutz of Desert Car Care Center.

There are several tools on the market designed to shatter glass if needed. Leutz says using them on the corners of the driver-side or passenger windows are your best chance.

"It's really designed to repel, so you really got to use a sharp device to actually tap and break it," said Leutz. "If you use a big blunt object... it's not going to work."

Leutz tested three different tools and found some worked better than others.

Bottom line, whether tools or your own personal escape plan, the idea is to start thinking now, so you are prepared later.

"Folks are going to be panicked, and they're going to be struggling, so you got to really get a clear head," said Leutz. "Think about a time in and out. It takes no time at all before you can get into some serious trouble."

One method circulating online that car experts do not recommend is using the headrest to break the window. They say it takes too much time and different models have different ways of getting them off.