Saturday, April 20, 2002
G O O D  M O T O R I N G

Car in water! Take evasive action
H. Kishie Singh

THERE was a terrible accident along a canal bank last month. All the occupants of a car lost their lives when the car fell into a canal.

All occupants lost their lives when their car fell into the Dehlon canal last month
All occupants lost their lives when their car fell into the Dehlon canal last month

While in the plains there are roads along canal banks, in the hills one finds roads running alongside rivers Sultej and Beas as one drives on the NH 21 and NH 22. Driving down these highways it is not unusual to see a car, a bus or truck in the river.

Reproduced here from Auto Sense of many years ago is the proper procedure to be followed in the event a car falls in water.

It takes time for the car to leave the road and end up in the river. To the driver and the occupants this may seem to happen in a flash but in reality there is enough time for everyone to take evasive action.

If all attempts by the driver fail to avert the accident, the passengers and the driver should leave the car before it hits the water and sinks.


Open the doors and fold yourself into a foetal position. Pull up your knees, tuck your elbows into the waist, cover your ears with your hands and launch yourself into space. I guess it would help to keep your eyes tightly shut. You are likely to end up battered and bruised, shaken and shocked, but on terra firma. Thatís a lot better than being in a car which could be in deep water and sinking.

If you have not been able to roll out of the car while on land, the impact of the water will suddenly decelerate you and the car. Prepare yourself for this impact. Ball yourself into a foetal position and be prepared for anything. As the car hits the water, it comes to a dead stop before it begins to sink. There will be a nanosecond in which all motion will be frozen. This is the time to act. Unfold yourself and exit fast. Brace your feet or at least one foot against the car and throw yourself into the water as far away as possible from the car and start swimming for the shore. As the car sinks, it will cause suction in the water which could suck you under. Get clear, and fast.

But if you are unable to get out of the car and are still in it when it is going under water, do not panic.

It will take a long time for the car to fill up with water. I donít think I can say that for my Gypsy, it leaks like a sieve! Roll up all windows tightly and unlock the doors. As the water fills up, there will be air trapped near the roof. Do not try to open the door. The high pressure of the water outside will not allow you to open the door. Again, do not panic. Take a few deep breaths and keep your cool. You are going to need it. If you lose your wits now, all is lost. Avoid talking, communicate with the sign language.

As the interior gets filled with water, the pressure will equalise and it will be easier to open the door. Tell the children to hold their breath and push them out. They will bob to the surface. It may be necessary to pull out someone who has been hurt. In such a situation hold on to an arm or leg of the injured person. Children should hold hands or link arms ó anything to stay together. Itís much safer.

While parking along a river, or body of water, park parallel to the water. Do not park facing the water or with the back of the vehicle towards it. If it is absolutely necessary to do so, make sure the hand brake is on and the car is in gear. Choke the wheels and keep an obstruction behind the wheels so that the car cannot move. Vehicles sometimes move on their own and it would be disastrous if the vehicle rolled into the river.

Act wisely, park prudently and happy motoring!