Rescuers warn that you’ll only have about a minute to complete these two steps before the car sinks underwater.
Don’t waste time trying to open the door. It will not budge, because of the force of water pressing on it from the outside. Remember — the sequence "unfasten the seat belt, lower the window, climb out of the car" is your only chance at salvation.
A manual window gives you the best means of escape. However, all is not lost if your car has power windows. Professionals note that, according to test results, a car’s electronics continue to function for at least ten minutes after it becomes submerged.
Don’t even try breaking the windshield — it is made of extra-strong, crash-resistant triplex safety glass.
Many online shops offer special car window-breaking tools at affordable prices. Another option is to use some heavy object with a pointed tip (you should always keep such an object handy in your car). This could be a hammer, a wrench, a heavy screwdriver. In the absence of these, you can use a removable headrest (strike at the glass with the headrest’s metal studs), a stiletto heel, or your elbow. You should aim your blows at the corners of the window as the glass is more fragile there.
If you’re traveling with children, rescuers recommend the following sequence of actions: unfasten your safety belt; lower your side window; unfasten your older child’s seat belt first, and push him or her out of the car; then repeat the procedure with your younger child. Finally, leave the car yourself. This way, everyone gets better chances of survival.
If you are unable to open or break the window, there’s another way out: via the door. This is the most controversial of escape methods, since you’ll need to wait for the car to fill with water in order for the pressure inside and outside the car to equal out. When this happens, breathe in the remnants of the air, open the door, and swim out.
A tip from the professionals: keep a firm grip on the door handle while water fills the cabin. Remember that the door will not open easily. You may have to push it with your feet.
It’s easy to become disoriented underwater, especially so if the water is turbid. To find your way to the surface, swim in the same direction as the rising air bubbles.