Car Caught in Water: What You Should Do

Although Hurricane Isaac has been downgraded to a tropical storm, it’s still a dangerous weather system, especially to unsuspecting motorists farther inland from the Gulf. If you happen to get caught in a flash flood or get stuck in the remnants of Isaac, here are a few do’s and don’ts when battling potentially flooded streets.


  • Stay calm. You'll need your wits about you.
  • Unbuckle your seat belt.
  • Unlock your doors.
  • Turn on your headlights and hazard lights. This will make it easier for emergency personnel to see you.
  • Take jackets and outer clothing off.
  • Call 911. 
  • Lower your window. Most electric windows should work unless the car is completely submerged in water.
  • If you can lower the windows, do so, but slowly. Climb out. Get to high ground.
  • If the windows cannot open, you'll have to use a door to get out. But you won't be able to open a door until the water pressure is equalized between the outside and the inside of the car. This means you'll have to wait for water to enter the car and fill up to about your neck level (this sounds terrifying, but this is the only way the doors will open).
  • Once the doors are open, tread water and swim to safety.


  • Do not panic.
  • Do not use your energy trying to open the doors because water pressure will keep them from budging (wait for the pressure to equalize).
  • Do not try to save your possessions.
  • Do not try to break windows to get out. If water pressure has not equalized, glass will explode inward toward you or other occupants. 
  • Once out, do not stay with your car. Get to high ground.
  • Do not stand on the roof of your car. If your car is swept away, you'll be carried away with it. You could also fall and injure yourself if the car shifts abruptly.
  • Do not return to your car if you think the water level is going down. Water levels could rise without warning. Allow emergency personnel to tow your vehicle to a safe place.

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By Colin Bird | August 30, 2012 | Comments (5)


This information is not entirely correct and could be harmful. DO NOT OPEN A DOOR. Remember POGO: Pop seatbelt; Open (or break) window; Get Out. Climb atop the car and then, and only then, call for help. Please view this official training video: For further information, go to my web site: Stay safe.

Colin Bird, where did you get this information?


Mary: Breaking the window in that sort of situation would be nearly impossible, most windows in cars these days are INCREDIBLY durable. That combined with the glass shattering inwards toward you would make it far too dangerous to ever try to break a window in the situation. While opening a door may not be optimal, it's moreso than the other options.

Robert May

If you are talking about a car driving into the water and stalling your information about letting the car fill with water to your neck is deadly advice. What you should do is immediately roll down your window, climb out the window to the top of your car and then call 911. Calling 911 while in your car is a waste of valuable time that you should be using to escape. Talking to a 911 operator who is repeatedly going to ask you your location while your drown is a waste of time. You have to save yourself by getting to the top of the car, then calling for help.
Robert May
Team Leader Indiana State Police Dive Team 2
National Speaker on vehicle immersions.

Jason H.

...Uhm how about:

* Don't drive into the water.


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