Escaping a Submerged Vehicle

Talk to your children and family members about exactly what to do if your vehicle ends up in a body of water and review the topic regularly. Remember, if your vehicle begins to submerge in water, you have 1 minute to escape before the water pressure becomes too great.

SWOC: Steps to survive if your vehicle goes into water:



     OOUT through window

     C CHILDREN (oldest to youngest)

DO NOT panic. DO NOT touch your cell phone. DO NOT open the door, this will cause water to rush into the car. DO NOT wait for the vehicle to be fully submerged, it is a widespread myth that you will be able to escape once it is fully submerged, but this is NOT true. If you wait, your car becomes a coffin. 

resqme™ emergency safety tool

Never drive through water! It only takes a few inches of water to sweep a vehicle off the road. If you ever find yourself having crashed or rolled into a body of water remember, you only have about 60 seconds to remove seat belts, open the window and get out.

When your vehicle enters water and begins to submerge, the water pressure will be too great to open the doors. If you do happen to get the door open, water will rush in.

Always keep at least one resqme™ window breaker/seat belt cutter tool in your vehicle in an easy to reach location securely fastened using a zip tie. (order tools here) The tools should always be used as a backup method only if you cannot roll the windows down using the button on the door panel.


Window-breaking tools do NOT work on laminated glass, they only work on tempered glass.

Each window in your vehicle should have a sticker indicating what type of glass.  In emergency situations, you may not be able to recall. Even if your car has laminated glass on the front passenger windows, it is likely that it has tempered glass on the back seat passenger windows. Be prepared. Know what windows have tempered glass in your vehicle and mark them with a special sticker. More resources below.

AAA’s list of vehicles that have laminated glass windows on doors.

Trey Kidwell

Trey Kidwell was 17-years-old when him and a friend crashed into water in his vehicle and drowned because they were unable to escape. Trey was a competitive swimmer and would have survived had he known to follow the 3 step process above. Please read and share Trey’s story and make sure that you’re prepared in a vehicle submersion emergency.


*Laminated glass will crack but remain together due to the plastic layer that is baked between the two pieces of glass. Tempered glass breaks into smaller pieces so you can get out of a vehicle. Most windshields of vehicles have laminated glass because in case there is a crash it helps keeps occupants in the vehicle making a crash much more survivable.  In general, most vehicles have tempered glass in side door windows especially in the rear doors.  But, some makes and models do have laminated glass in the front driver’s and passenger door windows, back windows and the roof.