How to survive a car crash into water

How to survive a car crash into water.

It’s a tragedy that’s heard all too often in Idaho: Drivers drowning after their vehicles plunge into some of Idaho’s waterways.

It sparked KTVB to find out what you can do if you find yourself in this situation.

"The initial impact is kinda like hitting a rock,” Sgt. Gordon Dye with Idaho State Police said.

That’s why safety starts with buckling up.

“It's like a head-on collision a lot of times, and if you're severely injured then self-rescue is kind of hard to do,” Sgt. Dye said.

Once you’re in the water, it can be easier said than done: Don’t panic.

“As hard as it is you need to stay calm and think,” Sgt. Dye said.

You might have a little more time than you think. It takes anywhere from three to five minutes for the car to fully submerge. You’re going to want to take advantage of that time and get unbuckled and out of the car.

“Getting your seat belt undone, getting the window down, whether it's rolled down or if you have electric windows, those electric windows will work for a short period of time while in the water. So rolling those windows down getting out of the car,” Division Chief Paul Roberts with the Boise Fire Department said.

If for some reason your windows are jammed, use a metal object to break a side window.

“Strike the window low against the door because the higher up the more fluctuation you have in the glass and it makes it harder to break. So low against the door, if you can closer towards a corner,” Sgt. Dye said.

Side windows are designed to shatter into small pieces when broken.

“I would not try to make your egress through the front windshield - that's a very well reinforced glass and you’re probably not going to break through that one,” Roberts said.

Once out, Roberts recommends climbing on top of your vehicle. Idaho State Police say you should try to get to shore.

“Feet down river, butt in the water a little bit, head up, and kind of move with the water and then you can slowly move towards the side using your arms, feet to kind of guide you,” Sgt. Dye said.

Every situation is different based on the body of water you enter, from rivers and lakes to even how strong of a swimmer you are, but in every situation: Stay calm, unbuckle, and get out of the car.

These situations pose similar risks to those good Samaritans coming across them. Police say half of the drownings that occur when cars are in water are those who’ve come to help.

Police teach: Preach, reach, throw, and then go.

“So try and talk the people out, keep them calm, give them instructions on how to get out. If that's not working or if you can either with reaching with your arm or some stick object you can get out. If you can reach to them and let them grab that and pull them to shore, that's the next best option. If you can't reach them with a solid object do you have a rope, something you can throw out to that person,” Sgt. Dye said.

ISP says the last thing you should try to do is enter the water. They say there are a lot of things in the water that can put you in danger.

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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