How to Escape a Sinking Car – With Or Without a Life Hammer

Some people wonder why I have a bright orange Life Hammer mounted on my console. Then I tell them my story and they understand.  

One memorable night two years ago I accidentally drove my car into a river. I became trapped in my car immersed in water with no way out. My escape was nothing short of a miracle. The rear window that, just moments before would not budge, suddenly shorted out and went down on its own allowing me to escape. 

Unfortunately most people are not so lucky. 

There are, however, two things you can do to help ensure that you don’t experience the terror of auto entrapment.

  1. Learn what to do in the event you are involved in a water immersion accident. 
  2. Keep a Life Hammer in your car and know how to use it. 

How To Escape A Sinking Car 

In most instances once a car enters the water it will float for 30 seconds to a few minutes before sinking. If you stay calm and take action quickly you will greatly increase your chance of survival.  

Do not attempt to open a car door. Even when the door is only partially immersed the water pressure exerted on the exterior of the door will make it almost impossible to open. 

The key to survival is to GET OUT OF THE CAR AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE. Here are the 5 steps to escape a sinking car: 

1. Try to stay calm
2. Lower your car window(s)
3. Unfasten your seat belt
4. Exit through the window
5. Swim to safety 

I cannot over emphasize the importance of getting out of the car quickly. I hear far too many tragic stories where people stay in their vehicle hoping it will float until help arrives. This is almost always a death sentence. It takes an emergency squad at least 20 minutes to arrive (usually longer) and the car will sink long before they get there. 

But what if your windows and doors won’t open? 

Most people don’t know that car windows are made of tempered glass and are extremely difficult to break. You can literally pound on a car window with a hammer without breaking it. 

If you can find a sharp object like the edge of a screw driver and strike the corner of a side window hard enough it may break. However, it takes very little effort to break a car window with an emergency tool like the original Life Hammer. It has a conically shaped hardened steel tip that will easily shatter a tempered glass window. 

To use a Life Hammer simply remove it from the mounting bracket, protect your eyes by covering them with one hand, then swing the Life Hammer against the corner of a side or rear car window. The window will shatter and you can use the LifeHammer to push any remaining glass out of the way.   

The Last Resort

If you don’t have a Life Hammer and you can’t locate a sharp object there is one last resort. It is possible to open your car door under water once the interior is filled with water. This equalizes the pressure inside and out allowing the door to open.  

To employ this method you must first make sure the door is unlocked well before the car is filled with water. Pulling the door handle two times in most cars will accomplish this. When the interior is almost full, take a deep breath, pull the handle and then push the door open.   

 How To Cut a Jammed Seat Belt

The Life Hammer also has a safely guarded blade built into it that will quickly slice through a jammed seat belt. Just hook the blade over the seat belt and pull hard to cut through.