Doug / 02-22-2010 / Auto Accidents

What to do if your car sails into a pond or canal

If you drive in Florida, you are most likely to pass by or over some body of water wherever you go.  As a result, there is a chance that if you are in an auto accident, your vehicle could end up diving into water.

According to the official State website, there are over 11,000 miles of rivers and streams, more than 7,700 acres of water in lakes greater than 10 acres, and who knows how many small water retention ponds.  As a result, according to FHP  over 4,800 crash vehicles end up sinking in water.

Do you know how to save yourself from drowning if you crash your vehicle into a pond?  According to EMS,  if you plunge your vehicle into water, you must immediately make the decision to evacuate the vehicle and determine quickly what method is going to work.

Because of the weight of the water pushing on the doors, it is very unlikely that they will open.  So after you have unbuckled your seatbelt, try rolling down the windows.   Even if they are electric, there is a chance they may still work for a short time.  If  you cannot get the windows down, your only option is to break one of them out.

Since your vehicle is most likely diving nose-first into the water, it is not recommended that you try to get out the windshield.  The force of the incoming water would be too strong.  Therefore, you should try to break either the glass in either a door or the back window.  EMSResponder recommends you carry a rescue tool designed specifically for this purpose either in your glovebox or closed console.  (Do not carry a conventional hammer under the seat as it could knock you unconscious with no means of escape.)  Try to remove your shoes or heavy clothing to make your assent to the top as effortless as possible.

As your vehicle continues to sink, depending on the depth of the water,  it will either land right-side up or on it may flip over and land on the roof.  In either case, you need to be on your way out before it hits bottom.

If you are not alone in this type of accident, all of the passengers should try to hold hands to lead each other to the top.  If there is a child in a safety seat, while they have limited experience with this, the EMS Responders felt it best to cut the seatbelt and leave the child in the seat to float to the surface.

Let’s face it, if you miss a turn and your vehicle plunges into a pond, panic is more than likely to set it.  It will take everything you have practiced to get your wits about you and get to the surface safely.  That is why the EMSResponder recommends practicing the  SOS-GO method of survival:

  • S = Stay Calm. Assess the situation. Slow your breathing.
  • O = Open your window(s) or door(s)
  • S = Disengage your seatbelt
  • GO = Get out

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