Thanks to the efforts of a Putnam County Highway worker, a 25-year-old woman survived a February 11 crash. The woman was rounding an icy curve when she lost control of her vehicle, going down an embankment, hitting into a tree, and flipping her vehicle into a foot of water. The woman was upside-down in the icy water for at least five minutes before the man saw the vehicle and acted quickly to save the woman. While a vehicle submerged in water is one of the less common car accident scenarios, it is important to know how to safely exit your vehicle if you end up in the water.
- First, remain calm and act quickly. Of course, staying calm in the moment can be difficult, but if you are prepared, you are more likely to be able to stay calm at least long enough to get out of your vehicle.
- Do not waste time calling 911. If someone on the shore saw your crash, they may have already called. Even if no one has called, you could be wasting precious escape time making the call.
- Unbuckle your seat belt right away. The sooner you are able to move around, the better. You may want to have something in your vehicle to cut the seat belt, just in case you are ever unable to unbuckle it.
- Help others in your vehicle get unbuckled as quickly as possible.
- Once your vehicle starts to sink, you will not be able to open the door. If possible, roll down the window to get out. If that is not possible, breaking the window also works, but this could leave jagged glass edges. You may need a special tool to break the window. Often, this tool is the same one you can use to cut the seat belt. Store it in your vehicle at all times.
- Get out through the window as quickly as possible. Most passenger vehicles float for at least thirty seconds to several minutes before they start to sink, so if you have acted quickly enough, you may be able to get out of your vehicle and swim to safety before the vehicle starts to fill with water.
- Make sure to help all occupants get out of the vehicle. A sinking vehicle is one of the few times you should remove someone who appears injured from a vehicle.