How to escape a sinking car

How To Escape A Sinking Car

How to escape a sinking car

In the United States, approximately 400 people die each year because their cars are trapped in water. Most people do exactly the wrong thing in that moment… we roll up the windows and hope for an air bubble or call 911.

Here is the right thing to do if your car is sinking; how to get out alive…

Critical seconds that can save your life…
The first 30 to 60 seconds are the most critical to get out alive.

I recently received an email from Melissa at, advising of the best way to get out of a sinking car. We have no affiliation, however I do believe their message is a valuable one so I’m sharing it with you if you’re interested…

In the United States, approximately 400 people die each year in cars that have gone off the road into canals, lakes, or rivers. There is confused and misguiding messaging about what to do to escape from a sinking car.

The secret to survival is to remember these 4 key words:
Seat-belts, Windows, Children, Out.

If your car goes off the road into water, don’t call 911. Take these steps to escape.


This is the first step to take as soon as you hit the water.

2. WINDOWS down (or break)

Due to water pressure, you will likely be unable to open your door. The best procedure to getting out from your car is through your window.

There are tools like the ResQMe car escape tool (Made in USA) that can help with this step.

3. CHILDREN (old to young)

If there are children in the car, have the older ones unbuckle their seat-belts and help them out. They can hold on to the side of the car. Then help the younger ones out of their car seats, handing them to someone waiting outside the car, or carrying them out with you.

4. OUT

Get everyone out of the car as soon as possible. Don’t call 911, don’t wait for the car to fill with water. The first 60 seconds are the most crucial ones to get out alive.

Seat belt off, Window down, Get out

Video clip from ABC Nightline, how to escape from a sinking vehicle.


  1. This is very good information. We have a lot of irrigation canals around here. Every year cars go off the road and into a canal, which is just wide enough for the car to sink completely, but not wide enough to open a door. Sadly, almost none of those people get out alive.
    I do have questions: When a car falls in deep water, does this short out the electrical system? Wouldn’t that make the electric windows in most cars inoperable? So the window would have to be broken to get out. You would need one of those ‘escape hammers’ kept in a location that you could easily get to in an accident.
    I’ve always had cars with crank windows, but even those would need to be broken if your door has been dented in the accident, preventing the window from opening.

    1. I believe that the electric windows would work in the short term, but would probably short out after being submerged – circuit breakers would probably trip. The ResQMe product can be clipped on a keychain or simply clipped in an easy-to-access location within reach of the driver.

      The biggest problem in this case would be panic. People don’t think straight in a life and death emergency. This is why the tool would have to be readily accessible.

  2. I watched an episode of MythBusters on this. They were trying to show the amount of force it takes to break a window on a car. I would suggest everyone buy one of those tools and make sure you can reach your children.

  3. It scares me that this isn’t simply common knowledge and that people would actually call 911 while their car is filling with water. It goes back to the “someone will help me, so why bother helping myself” problem that we have today.

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