What do you do if your car is submerged in water?

March 25, 2013 8:48:39 PM PDT
Seconds count when you're in a car that's sinking in water.

Starting in April, 911 operators who get frantic calls will offer new advice.

March 11 in Romeoville: A man dies when his Grand Prix rolled into a retention pond.

Two days earlier in Aurora: A strikingly similar scene claimed the life of a woman off Interstate 88.

And in Wilmington: 4-teens died in a submerged car after sliding off an icy road.

Chicago Fire Department divers have long known seconds matter. Now new research gets even more specific, you have just 30 to 60 seconds to act. Once the car is submerged, the doors will not open.

Whether it's a tightly controlled demonstration in Florida or in icy, unforgiving waters in Chicago, the message is the same.

Watch the clock. A second after hitting the water, seatbelts off and then, windows down. Within 8 seconds, both front seat passengers are out. Water is now rushing in and the back seat passengers scramble. In some cars like this one, rear windows won't roll down all the way. The escape is out the front. Everyone is safe in under 20 seconds.

"The point is everyone knew what they were supposed to do. Get your seatbelt off, open the window, period," University of Manitoba professor Gordon Giesbrecht said.