What to do if your car is swept away in Lubbock floods or submerged underwater…


LUBBOCK, Texas — Last week, 27-year-old Ryan Espinosa died after his vehicle left the roadway and entered into a playa lake. His cousin said Wednesday that he believes he had a seizure at the wheel. KLBK News spoke with Lubbock Fire Rescue’s Dive Rescue Team to find out how tragedies like this happen and if they can be prevented.

Whether you are trying to escape from a submerged vehicle or navigating through Lubbock’s flood waters, staying calm and aware of your surroundings is key, firefighter and dive rescue instructor Kasey Davis told EverythingLubbock.

“If you have water that’s looks like it’s moving fast across the highway, go a different direction,” Davis said.

Davis explained that regardless of the size of your car, it only takes four inches of water to cause someone to lose control of the vehicle, including heavy pick-up trucks.

“Don’t be in such a hurry, find an alternate route to get either to home or work or to a grocery store,” he said, adding, “It’s better to be safe than confident.”

If your car starts to drift through flood waters, Lubbock Fire Rescue said the safest option is to stay in your car and call 911.

“If it’s fast enough to move the vehicle, it’s fast enough to move you as well,” Davis stated.

And if your car enters a body of water, the dive rescue team instructor explained: time is of the essence.

He also said newer cars usually have more insulation and may float for three to five minutes before they start to sink.

Davis referred to the first minute as a “golden minute,” saying it’s the time period that “you really need to act quickly” to take off your seatbelt and offer assistance to other passengers.

He recommended assisting older passengers first so they can help younger passengers.

As they sink, vehicles tip in one direction, with the heaviest side (where the engine is located) submerging first. After the first minute, it becomes more and more difficult to escape, Davis said.

“The doors will be almost impossible to open,” he explained.

When the water reaches the battery, the automatic windows may not work, so the dive rescue team recommended keeping a tool in your vehicles that can break the glass.

Front and back windshields are designed “not to shatter,” so “the windows to break are the side windows” as they are made with tempered glass.

Moonroofs may be a safer way to exit, Davis suggested.

“A lot of times they’re big and it gets you on top of the car, [so] you’re not fighting the force of water coming into the car,” he said, adding they may also work longer because “switches are higher.”

Knowing how to swim could also save your life, Davis said.

And if you find yourself having a medical episode at the wheel, or if you feel you may be moments away from having a seizure, Lubbock Fire Rescue said the best thing you can do is to pull over immediately and call 911 for help.

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