Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

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
  • Wal-Mart to cut prices more aggressively in back-to-school push

    Wal-Mart Stores plans to cut prices more aggressively during this year's back-to-school season and will add inventory to its online store as the chain battles retailers for student spending.

    July 21, 2014

  • Hospitals let patients schedule ER visits

    Three times within a week, 34-year-old Michael Granillo went to the emergency room at Northridge Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles because of intense back pain. Each time, Granillo, who didn't have insurance, stayed for less than an hour before leaving without being seen by a doctor.

    July 21, 2014

  • Starved Pennsylvania 7-year-old weighed only 25 pounds

    A 7-year-old Pennsylvania boy authorities described as being so underweight he looked like a human skeleton has been released from the hospital.

    July 21, 2014

  • Malaysians wonder 'Why us?' after second loss of airline jet

    It was all too familiar. Grieving families rushing to airport. The flashing television graphics of a plane's last radar appearance. The uncomfortable officials before a heavy thicket of microphones.
    For many Malaysians, the disappearance of Flight 370 in March has been a long trauma from which the nation has not yet recovered.

    July 18, 2014

  • A quarter of the world's most educated people live in the 100 largest cities

    College graduates are increasingly sorting themselves into high-cost, high-amenity cities such as Washington, New York, Boston and San Francisco, a phenomenon that threatens to segregate us across the country by education.

    July 18, 2014

  • Your chocolate addiction is only going to get more expensive

    For nearly two years, cocoa prices have been on the rise. Finally, that's affecting the price you pay for a bar of chocolate - and there's reason to believe it's only the beginning.

    July 18, 2014

  • Facebook tests button to let people shop from its website

    Members on desktop computers or mobile devices can click a "buy" button to make purchases through advertisements or other posts on the world's largest social network, the Menlo Park, California-based company said Thursday in a blog post.

    July 17, 2014

  • The terrible history of passenger planes getting shot out of the sky

    What is more clear is that, if initial reports are true, this would be the deadliest incident of a civilian passenger plane being shot down in modern memory. In some instances, the causes of the disaster are still shrouded in mystery. Here are some of the worst events.

    July 17, 2014

  • 130408_NT_BEA_good kids We're raising a generation of timid kids

    A week ago, a woman was charged with leaving her child in the car while she went into a store. Her 11-year-old child. This week, a woman was arrested for allowing her 9-year-old daughter to go to the park alone. Which raises just one question: America, what the heck is wrong with you?

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • web_starbucks-cof_big_ce.jpg Starbucks sees more Apple-like stores after Colombia debut

    This week Starbucks opened its first location in Colombia — a 2,700-square-foot store with a heated patio, concrete columns, mirrors on the ceiling and walls of colorful plants.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo