Tag Archives: Car Preparedness

  • How to Escape a Sinking Car

    A Massachusetts woman made an unexpected 9-1-1 call on December 14th when she swerved to avoid a head-on collision and her car careened into a river.

    Debora Wrigley Dooley called for help when she realized the water was too fast and deep for her to save herself. The water was high enough to partially fill the car, but not high enough that Debora was in immediate danger of drowning. Rescue crews arrived within 4 minutes, and the current had already swept the car 150 yards downstream. Rescuers were able to quickly retrieve Debora from the car without serious injury.

    An average of 300 Americans die each year in submerged cars. In her particular situation, Debora did the right thing by staying where she was and calling 9-1-1. But what if she had driven into a deep lake, instead, and started to sink?

    In water deep enough to engulf a car, experts suggest leaving your phone behind and saving yourself. And you may be surprised to hear that the previously popular method of waiting for the water pressure to equalize, then opening the door, is no longer the suggested escape method. So, would you know what to do? If not, read on, because a few simple tips can make a world of difference.


    How to Escape a Sinking Car

    You have about one minute to escape a car that has fallen or driven into deep water. Dr. Gordon Geisbrecht of the University of Manitoba has performed over 80 test vehicle submersions. He says performing these four steps in quick succession gives you the best chance of escape:

    How to Escape a Sinking Car

    Let’s look at each step in more detail:

    Seatbelt – Once your car hits the water, remove your seatbelt as quickly as possible—just don’t remove it before hitting the water. According to the Institute for Road Safety Research in the Netherlands, around half of the injuries in car submersion accidents are due to injury, not drowning. Give yourself the best chances of survival by always wearing a seatbelt, then unbuckling quickly once you hit the water.

    Window – There are two potential options here:

    Roll down your window. The back window is ideal, but side windows will work fine if the back window doesn’t or won’t go down. If there are multiple people in the car, have everyone roll down and escape via their own window if possible.

    Break the window. If your window won’t roll down, you’ll need to break it. Have a center punch or window spike in the car for this purpose, and keep it easily and immediately accessible.

    Children – If there are kids in the car not old enough to unbuckle themselves or who can’t swim, help them get out first by pushing them out the windows (they may not be strong enough to push against the flow of water without help). If there’s another adult or an older child, hand kids who can’t swim out the window to them.

    Out – Get out of the car as fast as you can. Don’t reach for your phone or other valuables, and be ready to push against the current that’s rushing in through the window.


    See the steps in action:


    And check out Richard Hammond from Top Gear testing “get out fast” versus the outdated “wait for the pressure to equalize” course of action:

    So, next time someone shares the “wait for the pressure to equalize” bit, go ahead and correct them using Dr. Geisbrecht’s tips and these videos. Knowing the info can save your own life. Sharing the info can save even more.

    Here’s to knowing what to do, but hoping you never have to put it to use.




    https://gma.yahoo.com/massachusetts-woman-rescued-car-plunges-river-153438485--abc-news-topstories.html. Accessed 12-16-14.
    http://www.umanitoba.ca/faculties/kinrec/about/giesbrecht_faqs.html#sinking. Accessed 12-16-14.
    http://www.swov.nl/rapport/Factsheets/UK/FS_Cars_in_water.pdf. Accessed 12/16/14.

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: survival skills, Current Events, Car Preparedness

  • Winter Driving Tips that May Save your Life

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    Winter driving tips that may save your life

    Quite frankly, winter driving can be a pain in the neck.  The conditions can make the road dangerous and your car may not respond the way it does in warmer weather. On icy roads, everything takes longer to do safely—starting, stopping, and making turns. Here are some winter driving tips to help you stay safe on the road:


    Learn How to Drive Safely in Snow

      • Don’t pass snowplows or sanding trucks—even if they’re slow.
      • Don’t tailgate! Leave extra room between vehicles and avoid pulling right in front of another vehicle; the driver may not be able to brake quickly enough to let you in.
      • Do everything gently—do not over-steer, stomp your brakes, or try to accelerate quickly from a stop. Overreacting can easily send your car out of control.
      • Do not use cruise control in areas where an unexpected patch of ice might cause you to tap your brake; you could spin out of control. Never “pump” anti-lock brakes.
      • Swirling, blowing snow on the highway can be disorienting; slow down and watch for cars drifting into your lane. Turn on your low-beam lights so other drivers can see you. During daylight hours, polarized sunglasses may help you see better.


    Learn What to Do if You’re Stuck in Snow or Ice

      • If you get stuck in snow, don’t sit spinning your wheels—that just gets you in deeper. DO turn wheels from side to side if possible, use your emergency folding shovel to dig out around your tires, and pour kitty litter, sand, salt, or gravel in the path of the tires to give them traction. When you feel your tires beginning to catch, accelerate slowly to ease your vehicle out.
      • If you can’t get your car out, stay put, only getting out occasionally to clear snow from your tailpipe so that you can safely run your heater from time to time. Call for help and try to identify your location. Flares and reflective triangles may signal other drivers to help you—or at least avoid hitting you! A red cloth hanging out the driver’s window is a signal for help.
      • If the roads are icy, drive very slowly. It takes at least twice as long to stop on ice as on dry pavement—and a whopping nine times as long to stop on black ice as on dry pavement!
      • Bridges and overpasses ice up more quickly than regular roadways. Be aware that black ice (sometimes called “clear ice”) often just looks like wet pavement; it also lurks in tunnels or on roadways close to bodies of water.
      • NEVER assume that a front-wheel or all-wheel-drive vehicle can safely negotiate icy roads at normal speeds. Ice is no respecter of vehicles!


    We hope you get where you're going safe and sound—no matter what weather you may face on the roads.


    Also, don’t forget to store an emergency kit in your car. Check out our Insight articles, "Baby Steps: Time to Winterize your Grab and go Bag” and “How to Winterize your Car” for more winter safety and preparedness tips.








    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Winter driving, Survival, preparedness, Winter, Car Preparedness, skills

  • Car Preparedness and Safety Tips

    Car Preparedness and Safety Tips

    The following is a recommendation of items to put into an emergency car kit:

    Other useful items to remember:

    • Jumper cables
    • Car repair kit
    • Try to always maintain at least one-half tank of gas
    • Cell phone to report any emergencies (many disconnected cell phones may still be able to call “911” when charged)
    • Fire extinguisher
    • Paper and pencil for leaving notes or recording any thoughts
    • Toys and other special consideration items for children
    • Books and games for entertainment
    • Short rubber hose for siphoning

    There are many ways to customize your emergency car kit. It is also important to consider special needs such as those with diabetes or hypoglycemia, babies, elderly, and people with allergies or chronic illness. For a person with diabetes, remember to have extra insulin on hand. For a person with hypoglycemia, store high energy snacks in addition to their ration of food. For babies, store extra diapers, formula, blankets, and clothes.

    If you have no way of calling for help, tie a bright red piece of cloth on your antenna. This is generally recognized as a call for assistance. Remember to always let someone know what time you left and what time you expect to arrive at your destination.


    By taking these precautions, you can prepare your family for an emergency and feel more confident in your travels.

    Posted In: Insight, Planning, Uncategorized Tagged With: Car Preparedness

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