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What to do if you’re trapped in a sinking car

Published Jun 2022
car sinking

Car accidents may happen anytime and anywhere. We have heard and learnt a lot about what should one do in the event of a road accident, but what about accidents that involve sinking cars?

Check out these lifesaving tips that we have compiled from experts to help you escape should you get involved in such situation.


  1. Stay as calm as possible.

    Panic = death. Hyperventilating and wasting your energy on ineffective actions closes off the easiest options of escape, wastes precious oxygen and shortens the amount of time you’ll be able to hold your breath when making an escape. It’s important for you to conserve your energy and stay focused.

  2. Don’t call for help until you’re out of the vehicle.

    Time is critical. Every second is crucial here and should be spent escaping.

  3. Your best chance of escape is the first 30-120 seconds.

    In many cases, a vehicle will actually float for 30 - 120  seconds before sinking*. This is your best chance at escape.

  4. Unbuckle your seat belt.

    Unbuckle your seat belt and don’t tend to your belongings. Remove any item that may weigh you down, such as your jacket, to help you swim better.

  5. Do not open the door.

    The water around the vehicle will exert pressure on the door from outside, making it difficult to open. And even if you do succeed in opening the door, it will only let in more water, speeding up the sinking. Instead, roll down or break the window.

  6. Roll down or break the window.

    Most vehicles nowadays have electronically controlled windows. So if the car is submerged, the water will short the circuits making them impossible to roll down. In this case, just break the window with any hard or sharp object.

  7. Get out.

    Once you’ve broken the windows, get out as fast possible before water starts flooding the inside of the car.

  8. Children first.

    If you are travelling with children, you should start freeing the eldest child first and push them out of the window before going for the younger ones. This is because the eldest child can potentially help the younger ones after escaping from the vehicle.

    Remember, only help them after you’ve unbuckled your own seat belt and unwind the window on your side.  

  9. Swim to safety.

    Push off the car and swim to the surface. If you’re disoriented and don’t know which way is up, look for bubbles and follow the direction they’re going.


* Source:

1. World Of Buzz – If  You’re Trapped in a Sinking Car, Remember These 5 Steps for a Safe & Quick Escape

2. Sport Car Club – How to escape a sinking car?

3. The Asianparent Singapore – How you and your family can escape a sinking car

4. NWO Report – How to Escape A Sinking Vehicle


This content is brought to you by Chubb Insurance Malaysia Berhad, Registration No. 197001000564 (9827-A) (“Chubb”) as a convenience to readers and is not intended to constitute advice or recommendations upon which a reader may rely. Any references to insurance cover are general in nature only and may not suit your particular circumstances. Chubb does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs and any insurance cover referred to is subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions set out in the relevant policy wording. Please obtain and read carefully the relevant insurance policy before deciding to acquire any insurance product. A policy wording can be obtained at, through your broker or by contacting any of the Chubb offices or Chubb agents. Chubb makes no warranty or guarantee about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of this content. It is the responsibility of the reader to evaluate the quality and accuracy of material herein.

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