Especially scary were the stories of people who drove into flooded streets, and, in moments, the water rose to swamp the vehicles and trap them inside.
All of these vehicles had their windows closed, and water pressure can keep a window from opening in cases like this.
Remember, power windows may not work if the engine dies or is inundated with water.
I think all of us who watched the news coverage here in Houston learned an important lesson when we saw a man run to a contractor's truck, grab a hammer, jump on top of a vehicle, and smash the windshield to pull a man out.
I shuddered and knew if that had been me in a flooded car, if I'd been foolish enough to drive into a flooded street, I would have had no way to escape the vehicle if it had been swept away. Nothing in my car would smash a window. Nothing in it could cut a seat belt away.
Get a Plan and an Escape Tool
The Escape Tool
I immediately went to Amazon to look for gadgets that can smash a car window and cut a seat belt. I found several devices similar to the one shown above, and I ordered 2.
The Escape Tool shown is called a Tunery Car Handle, Portable Safety Hammer with Window Breaker, Sustain up to 350 LB Weight.
I want this an escape tool, not to assist me in and out of a vehicle, although this is supposed to do that too. If this item is sold out, check out the other tools that are similar.
Find something to be part of your Escape Plan. When you get it, place it within easy reach, like in the console between seats if your vehicle has that. You want it near enough to grab if you need it.
Accidents happen and floods aren't the only reason you might need to escape a damaged vehicle.
Know exactly what you will do if your vehicle is swept away by flood water. Education is the most powerful tool you can possess.
The best plan is to turn around and don't drive into a flooded street.
Like we're told all the time: Turn around; don't drown.
If you frequently have children with you, make them part of your plan, and make sure they know what to do if you have to activate the plan. Because of backseat passengers, you may want to buy more than 1 Escape Tool.
Older children can take action if they know what to do and when to do it and have a way to escape the back seat. Knowledge is power so include children in the process so they're not terrified but know what to do.
You probably have a home fire escape plan and practice with fire drills. Make this escape procedure the same kind of safety education with drills to practice, saying out loud what must be done.
Above all, make sure your children learn to swim well. It's one of the most important things you'll ever do. I'm a big believer in enrolling children in swimming lessons when they're babies. That's what we did, and all of our kids are good swimmers. Three of our four children took lifesaving classes and worked as lifeguards when they were teens.
If you ignored the best plan and have driven into a flooded street and your vehicle stalls, do these things as quickly as possible.
1. Forget all the stuff you carry in your car. Your goal is to save your life.
Vehicles can be replaced. Stuff can be replaced. People can't. If you have a pocket, drop your cell into it. If you're alone, get yourself out of the vehicle without delay. Hopefully, you'll be able to get out and wade to higher ground.
|Take action. Be proactive. Make a Plan. Do it.|
Seat belts tend to jam when the car cabin is flooded. You'll need to be able to move fast.
If water has already risen and your seat belt won't unbuckle, get the Escape Tool from your console which is where you should have it stored. Use it to saw through the seat belt.
3. Try to open the door and leave the vehicle.
4. If the door won't open, immediately open your window.
If you've lost power, your window may not operate. Use the Escape Tool (remember, it should be close enough to where you're seated so you can quickly grab it). Look away and smash the window. Be fast. Rake all the glass away from the frame. If the water is rising really fast, don't worry about a few cuts. Get out, and you'll be alive to treat the cuts.
Yes, it's scary to think about all that water rushing in, but you'll only escape if you have a way to get out. Keep calm and do what you've rehearsed in your plan.
5. If you frequently have children in the car, you absolutely MUST have a plan in advance.
Being trapped with children in a car in rising water is horrific to think about. But you MUST think about it.
You MUST have a plan to save their lives and yours.
Depending on their ages, you might want to include some kind of child carrier/backpack and absolutely have a way to tether children to you.
Flood water moves fast. Even a few inches of rushing water knock a child down. Get young children into the front seat with you as quickly as possible. Older children should know the same steps you know in order to escape, and they should have access to an Escape Tool in the back seat where they sit.
Secure or tether children to you in whatever way you have planned and get out of the vehicle with them. When you rehearse, time how long everything takes. Every person in your family should go through the drill, reciting the steps out loud.
6. The goal is always to get everyone out of a flooded vehicle and to higher ground as quickly and as safely as possible.
I'm giving one of these Escape Tool to each of our loved ones for Christmas this year.