From Sheriff Dennis Dotson
Several times a year a car ends up in one of Lincoln County’s waterways. Last year, a mother and her three young children found themselves trapped in their submerged car in a local creek. They were fortunate in that they were rescued by passing motorists, but we shouldn’t depend upon the right people being there at the right time to save us. So if you spend much time driving along a river, lake, or other body of water, it’s a good idea to have a plan of what to do in case you find your car sinking or fully submerged in water.
Most cars will stay afloat for a few moments when driven into a deep body of water and remain in an upright position. Usually the weight of the engine causes it to slowly pitch forward and settle underwater nose-down. If you should find yourself in this predicament, the first thing to remember is DON’T PANIC! (No doubt easier said than done when the water is quickly filling the compartment)
The priority for survival is to Get Out of the Vehicle! Immediately and simultaneously, unbuckle your seatbelt and roll down your windows. If they are power windows, this may pose a problem if the water has shorted the electrical circuits. So don’t delay in attempting this action.
Rolling down the windows will cause more water to start rushing in, but by doing so; this will only increase your chance of escaping successfully. Some people think that if they don’t roll down the windows and are trapped underwater, they can sustain themselves for a period of time on a bubble of air that will remain in the interior of the car. Don’t count on this. Even if an air pocket is formed and you can find it, there probably won’t be a sufficient amount of oxygen for any substantial amount of time.
To complicate this type of emergency, sometimes the car will be turned upside down, or the windows can’t be opened, or the person is too large to fit through the window. The ease or difficulty in opening a door will depend upon how much of the car is submersed. Wait until the car’s interior is completely flooded to somewhat balance the pressure, and then push the door open. However, when possible, do not wait for this to happen. If you can push the door open, GET OUT!
If you do drive on roadways near or adjacent to open water, a smart addition to your car would be to clip a “center-punch” on the sun visor. These small pen-size tools can usually be purchased at most hardware stores. They can be used to break out windows in an emergency with relative ease.
Even if the car is upside down, these same safety principles will work. Don’t panic and remember…Push the button to release your seatbelt and GET OUT!
For more tips and other information, visit our website at www.lincolncountysheriff.netShare on Facebook