VICTORVILLE – Recent deaths after a vehicle is submerged in water have caused a public outcry about the one area where this year alone, four lives were lost. Three of these lives was a mother and two of her young children, while her third son survived with moderate injuries. The most recent was a 24-year-old woman who had already survived cancer and a kidney transplant as a child. All four deaths were a result of accidents on a very low-lit area of Main Street in the City of Hesperia.
Now many are wondering how they can increase their chance for survival if they were ever involved in such an accident or even if they were swept away by flood waters. Most think call 9-1-1 or some even have died after calling a loved-one like 24-year-old Xanthel Linares frantically did at around 12:07 a.m. on Friday. Experts remind you that you should skip the cell phone call altogether since this uses valuable time.
Before hitting the water you should brace for the impact in the water. Keeping your hands on the steering wheel at nine and three positions, meaning at each side will help to prevent certain airbag injuries. Once you hit the water or if your vehicle is washed away by flood waters you should undo your seatbelt and that of your children, oldest first so that they can assist you in freeing the other children. Although some experts recommend staying in your seat belt until the windows are down and you are ready to escape, removing the seat belt may also take valuable escape time.
Remaining calm may be difficult, but it may save your life. Stay as calm as possible and before hitting the water and stay focused. It is important that you open the windows as soon as you hit the water, even power windows should work for several minutes after being in water. Windows should be tried before a door because the time you have where the door will still open is limited to seconds. You will have the opportunity to open the door once the door has the same pressure on the inside and outside, but the vehicle must first be filled with water. If you do not choose the door route, escape through the window is very possibly the best option since studies done by Professor Giesbrecht from the University of Manitoba. A study using 30 vehicles showed that a vehicle will float for anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes. This time can used to escape, while opening the door will leave everyone in the vehicle only 5-10 seconds to escape before the vehicle sinks.
Sometimes opening the window is not possible and the window will need to be broke. You can use an object, like a small hammer, a laptop, steering wheel lock, umbrella, screwdriver, the metal inserts of the removed vehicle headrest, or if necessary, your foot to break free. Once broken out, you will need to swim out through the window. Kicking the front of the side window or along the hinges may make it easier, although kicking the window to break it is very difficult. The windshield is nearly impossible to break in this way, so it should not even be considered an option.
Take a deep breath and swim out through the window as quickly as possible since water will be flooding into the vehicle. If there is something that floats for non-swimming children to hold onto grab it and hand it to them, if not you may have to pull them up with you. Swim to the surface and look for light or land and swim towards it. Once you safely reach land, call for help and seek medical attention even if you do not feel as though you are injured.
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