Tips on Escaping A Sinking Car

Escaping from a sinking car may seem close to impossible, but experts tell ABC News that with enough know-how, survival is definitely possible.

While the speed at which a car will sink depends on the distance of the fall as well as the type of car -- newer cars that are better at keeping sound out will likely also be better at keeping water out, experts say -- passengers will have no more than a few minutes to navigate an escape root.

Staying calm, knowing the right time to escape and conserving your energy are just a few of the tips that could save your life.

Don't Panic

Staying calm is crucial, survival expert Brian Brawdy tells ABC News.

"If you panic, you perish," says Brawdy. "It's the No. 1 thing that will always get you in a panic situation. If you're panicked, you can't think clearly, you can't focus and you won't be able to save yourself."

Brawdy says that even before you leap into action you should take a few deep breaths and calm yourself down. Making educated decisions could mean the difference between life and death.

Keep Your Seat Belt Buckled

Your first instinct may be to unbuckle your seat belt and try to escape, but experts warn that passengers should first check their surroundings.

"You want to make sure the impact is over before you take off your seat belt," says Brawdy, who warns that drivers and passengers should be certain no other car or foreign object is heading toward their vehicle.

While your first instinct may be to try to push the car doors and windows open, it's likely you'll have to wait it out a bit, experts say.

"You have to wait for some of the water to get in the car itself to equalize the pressure," says Brawdy. "As counterintuitive as it sounds, you've got to let some come in. When you allow the pressure to balance out it won't be as driving from the outside."

Adam Savage, co-host of Discovery Channel's "Mythbusters," says that many people don't know where to start when trying to break a window of a sinking car.

"Breaking the window with anything but special tools failed," says Savage, who tested different methods while submerged in a swimming pool. "Steel-toe boots a multitool had no effect on the window, but a special hammer tool worked like a charm."

If you don't have special tools and your fist isn't strong enough, other experts suggest using sharp, pointed objects to place pressure and crack a window.

"People think the batteries will short out, but they won't," says Savage. "You easily have a couple of minutes even if you're submerged when the batteries will still work."

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