Your car falls off into a river. Your sinking. Whats the best chance at survival?

Ok your driving on a bridge, something happens, and you’ve now fallen into a deepish river (lets say 100 meters deep or something of the like).

Your trapped in your car, and its sinking slowly.

What do you do to create the best possible chance at survival?

Get out

Ditto. Get out.

OK, I’ve actually been to a underwater survival training course in Holland which dealt exactly with this issue. They put you in a car with an instructor and then pushed the car down a ramp which dunked you into a dark cold pool of water.

Anyhow, the deal is this:

  1. don’t panic
  2. undo your seatbelt
  3. roll down your windows
  4. turn on your lights (optional, and if you don’t practice, you won’t remember it anyway, but it helps for finding the car or your body afterwards if things don’t go exactly as planned.)
  5. sink. go completely underwater.
  6. open the door. the door may not seem like it’s opening at first, but don’t panic. it is. just a bit slower. still, it’ll only take your 3 or 4 seconds to open the door of a submerged car
  7. get out

Easy peasy, right? Only if that damn panic reflex doesn’t kick in. As for 6), you can also go out the window. In fact, most of the students ended up doing this, but the instructors wanted everyone to learn to go out the door.

Hope this helps.

What’s up with step 5? Do you mean to wait until no part of the car is above the water level, or wait until the car touches the bottom of the pool. In the first case, this seems pointless. In the second case, it seems stupid. What am I missing?

I presume it’s so you avoid the suction. :smiley: :eek:

If you have automatic windows, you should lower them first. The electric motors for most automatic windows is halfway up the door, once the water reaches the motors, it is likely they will short out and you won’t be able to open the windows. Then the water outside will prevent you from opening the car doors.

You wait until the car cabin is partialy filled with water. This is to equalise pressure and allow you to open the door.

Another solution is to have an emergency hammer in the car like this: You can use it to break the window and it has a razor on the other end to cut the safety belt.

They tried this out on a BBC prog called Top Gear.

While the advise was to wait till the car settled and the pressure equalised in reality it took to long for that to happen and the guy in the car had to take oxygen from the diver in the car with him. They ended up telling people that if they can get out the window before the car sinks to do that if not they should get out the window ASAP after that.

Watch The Stunt Man.

However, all the guides I’ve seen say that you shouldn’t try to open the door, but rather roll down the window and escape through it once the car fills. There will usually be a bubble of air near the rear window, so you can wait there until the front window is underwater.

“Don’t worry. It’ll be there.”

I’m still not getting this. If you’re going to go out the window, why wait? The window’s open, may still be above the water line or at least not far under. Why wait until the car fills?

With the door exit method you will have to wait so that you can actually open the door, but if you’re going out the window, I would think “right f*cking now” would be the best time to exit.

I tell everyone I know they should carry a small fire extinguisher in the front of their car. In addition to being used in case of fire or hijacking, if you’re in this situation, you can use to to break your windshield and swim out of the car.

The OP suggested the river was a HUNDRED METRES DEEP. Which is absurdly deep for most rivers, but if you do sink in 100 metres of water - about 333 feet - I sure wouldn’t suggest you wait until you get to the bottom to get out. If you wait until you’re 100 metres deep to get out, you’re dead.

If you wait for the car to fill with water, you won’t have to push back against the flow of the water rushing into the car against you - so you won’t have to try to swim ashore exhausted from pushing back against the force of what might be hundreds of pounds of rushing water trying to force you back into the car. It’s not going to be a gentle trickle as water slowly leaks into the car, it’s going to be a rushing torrent of water filling the interior of the car through the open window as a ton or so of metal and other car parts rapidly seek their final resting place on the bottom. Not the sort of thing it would be easy to push through on your way out the window.

Of course, you don’t want to wait until the car’s finished sinking before you try to leave - then you’re on the bottom of a river or lake or whatever with no air and you’re most likely screwed. Wait for the water to mostly fill the interior so you don’t have the huge flow to fight against, then just swim out.

Sounds easy, right? It’s also important not to panic as the water rises around you and the car sinks and may tip at an alarming angle…

Just not fun to contemplate at all.

This is harder than you think. Car windows, ESPECIALLY the windshield, are VERY strong, and you are not going to be able to break through with a fire extinguisher, especially if, most likely, you will be pushing it against some water.

My friend had a car that died, and we parked it in the driveway and decided to have fun bashing the Hell out of it. Well, we happened to have a fire extinguisher that we had to disharge the week before for a small grease fire. Thinking along the same lines as you, we threw it, as hard as we could, against the side windows…nothing. Dozens of VERY HARD throws, from outside and a good distance away to build up enough momentum, and we didn’t have so much as a scratch in the side windows. We knew that the windshield would be impossible, since it has layers of plastic-like material inbetween the safety glass. Your only window you have a chanve to break without a specialty tool designed to do so (like the hammer Dog80 linked to) is the rear windshield. It’s made out of the same stuff as the side wondows, but not always as think, has defroster wire running through it to make it more fragile, but most importantly is four times the area of a side window, making it MUCH more fragile and prone to breaking. Needless to say, we did manage to break the rear windshield.

Oh, and we even whacked at the side wondows with a regular hammer and it STILL took forever to break them. It’s like they design the damn thigns not to break, for some strange reason.

This is a popular one on “Worst Case Scenarios”.

I’m not sure what their credentials are, but here’s their take on it:

I have a good friend who grew up in the Netherlands. He said the thing they wre told to do first in their training was to turn on the windshiled wipers. The idea being of course that you would find that humorous and then be less liekly to panic.

And in case anyone’s wondering, the reason the Dutch have this tranig course is many of the dikes have roadways on them and apparently drving off them is not uncommon so many more Dutchmen (and women I suppose) end up in the drink relative to other coutries.

A few years back, we were vacationing in Jaco, Costa Rica. South of there is a National Park featuring a rain forest along the Pacific Ocean. The first trip was very scary, since there were bridges over raging streams that were just rails (not cross ties) from railroad track laid sideways over supports. One was a very long bridge over a very fast river, but the others were only 10 to 20 feet across with the water not more than a foot below. Every time we crossed one, my wife would roll down her window in case we went into the water. That day we got there too late to tour the rainforest, so we returned to the hotel. That trip was better, because we were getting to be “old salts” at crossing those make-shift bridges. The next day, we returned and our guide was from Chicago (another story altogether.) During one rest, I mentioned that I wanted to get back before the afternoon rains, because I really didn’t want to be crossing those bridges when it was raining. He agreed and added that what bothered him were the signs at the bridges. We’d seen them but didn’t know what they said. Turned out they said Beware of the crocodiles. :eek:

Assuming I hit the water engine-side first, I still have, what, 30-40 seconds before it starts to sink? I see no point in waiting for the water to start pouring in through the windows. Roll 'em down and get out now.

Actually, the side windows are designed to break if you push at the center of them with something small, like a key.

They did this on the news recently: stuck the reporter in a car, dumped the car in the river. The reporter sat (looking quite scared, might I add) until the car was submerged. Used the point of the car key against the center of the side window – didn’t hit or anything, just pushed really hard. The window shattered in a neat kind of way. Reporter swam out of window.

The whole time there was a diver in the passenger seat, but the demonstration went exactly as it was supposed to in theory.

This method is supposed to work even if you have electric windows that are disabled by the water.

Like pulykamell said, they encouraged you to wait until the car was submerged because the pressure was so uneven that it’s extremely unlikely that you 'd be able to push the door open.

Stick with Yojimbo on this.

I saw the same show, it takes much too long for air/water pressure to equalize, there is every chance that the vehicle will come to rest near something that will obstruct the doors opening properly, open the dorrs asap,and undo your safety belt, yes you will sink sooner, but your escape route will be established, you have a chance.

In the show, opening the door with equalised pressure took some time, in a stressful situation this could seem like an age and induce panic, which is the real killer.