Expert offers tips on how to escape from a submerged vehicle

Lt. Brandon Allen of Orange County Fire Rescue said he responds to at least two or three reports of cars crashing into the water every month.
“Most of the time, people are actually able to get out on their own,” Allen said, “there is that occasion when we do have to go into the water to rescue somebody.”
Allen demonstrated what to do when seconds count. First, he said to make sure everyone inside unbuckles and heads for the windows. If your car lands in the water, rescuers say the best thing to do is open the window and get out quickly. They say you have more time than you think.

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“You don't have a lot of time, but you have enough time to get out,” Allen said.
Windows will open if the car lands in the water. If they don't, it's tool time.

“We always recommend something like this,” Allen said, brandishing a window-punch tool, “these are real easy window-break tools. You can buy them online, at local hardware stores. It really requires no effort. You basically press this against the glass until it pops and the glass breaks.”
Rescuers say even if you don't have a special tool for breaking the glass, anything hard and sharp can work, such as the end of a door opener, a tool on a Swiss Army knife, or even the headrest on your car seat.

“If you didn't have any other tools on you, your headrest, take this and hit it against the window as hard as you can and these ends here can break the window, with enough force.”
It's a lot tougher to get out through a window if your vehicle sinks, but it can be done. Your phone will work underwater, depending on how deep it is. Allen and his team of 170 divers can get most places in Orange County within ten minutes.
“Vehicles in the water, we train for aircraft in the water, missing people, so it's actually hands-on training, day and night,” Allen said, “putting them in those real-world situations they're expected to respond to.”