CullmanTimes.com - Cullman, Alabama

Community News Network

July 23, 2013

How to escape a car underwater

On Friday night, Morgan Lake lived through many drivers' nightmare: She found herself plummeting about 40 feet off the edge of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and into the water below. And the 22-year-old student managed a feat that pilots and military personnel take hours of specialized training to perfect: She escaped her sinking car, swam to safety and survived.

Ken Burton, president of Panama City, Fla.-based Stark Survival Co., has guided helicopter operators worldwide through his $2,295 underwater egress class. Lake had no practice in the art of escaping a vehicle, Burton said, but she got lucky.

"There are people who just have dumb luck," he said. "God was sitting on their right shoulders, so they get out, even without the knowledge, and that is so fortunate."

Burton, who was certified as an Air Force instructor, said he has trained corporate and government helicopter operators.

For those who might find themselves underwater in their cars, Burton offered this advice:

— Open the window as fast as possible — before you hit the water, if you can, or immediately afterward.

— Stay still, with your seat belt on, until the water in the car goes up to your chin. Then take several slow, deep breaths, and hold one.

— Do not try to open the door until water has stopped flooding into the car. Initially, the water outside will put pressure on the door of up to 600 pounds per square inch, meaning you won't be able to open it from the inside. The pressure inside and outside the car should equalize about the time you start holding your breath.

— If you can't open a door and you're trying to break a window instead, aim for a side window, never the windshield. Windshields are several layers thicker.

— Don't take off your seat belt until you have opened a door or window. Grip the steering wheel before you unbuckle. You'll need something keeping you tethered so that you can pull yourself out of the car.

— Once you're out of the vehicle, let your body take you to the surface. As Burton put it: "Don't worry about going up or down. When you take all those deep breaths and hold it, it's like you're inflating a balloon."

All of that, Burton said, should take about 30 seconds.

1
Text Only
Community News Network
  • Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 4.42.47 PM.png VIDEO: Leopard attacks crowd in India

    A leopard caused panic in the city of Chandrapur when it sprung from the roof of a house and charged at rescue workers.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • In cuffs... 'Warlock' in West Virginia accused of sexual assault

    Police in West Virginia say a man claiming to be a “warlock” used promises of magical spells to lure children into committing sexual acts with him.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cats outsmart the researchers

    I knew a lot had been written about dogs, and I assumed there must be at least a handful of studies on cats. But after weeks of scouring the scientific world for someone - anyone - who studied how cats think, all I was left with was this statement, laughed over the phone to me by one of the world's top animal cognition experts, a Hungarian scientist named Ádám Miklósi.

    April 22, 2014

  • McCain 1 House Republicans are more active on Twitter than Democrats

    Your representative in the House is almost certainly on Twitter. Your senator definitely is. But how are they using the social network? Are Democrats more active than Republicans, or vice versa? Who has the most followers on the Hill?

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Do your genes make you procrastinate?

    Procrastinators, in my experience, like nothing better than explaining away their procrastination: General busyness, fear of failure, and simple laziness are just a handful of the excuses and theories often tossed around. Now researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder have added another option to the list: genetics.

    April 21, 2014

  • VIDEO: Moose charges snowmobile, flees after warning shot

    While snowmobiling in New England, Bob and Janis Powell of Maine were charged by a moose and caught the entire attack on camera.

    April 21, 2014

  • Can Hillary Clinton rock the cradle and the world?

    What's most interesting to contemplate is the effect becoming a grandmother will have on Hillary's ambition. It's one of life's unfairnesses that a woman's peak career years often coincide with her peak childbearing years.

    April 21, 2014

  • Why do wolves howl?

    Of all the myths that dog the wolf, none is more widely accepted than the idea that wolves howl at the moon. Images of wolves with their heads upturned, singing at the night sky, are as unquestioned as a goldfish's three-second memory or a dog's color-blindness (both also myths).

    April 18, 2014

  • Biggest student loan profits come from grad students

    This week, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the federal government would earn roughly $127 billion from student lending during the next 10 years.

    April 18, 2014

  • quake.jpg Pennsylvania won’t take action following Ohio ruling on quakes, fracking

    Pennsylvania officials plan no action despite new Ohio rules on drilling that affect a seismically active area near the state line.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo