What to do if you find yourself submerged in high waters

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Recent floods and high waters have first responders in the Tri-State working multiple water rescues. 

“Obviously you have to decide in a moments notice what to do to stay safe,” Henderson Fire Department Assistant Chief Chad Moore says. “I think the hardest thing for people when they get into water is to stay calm and stay put.”

Some water rescues were fatal. Others, the car doesn’t get fully submerged. But either way, you only have seconds to react as a cabin can fill with water in just 90 seconds with the windows shut. 

“At that point once the cabin is full of water you can’t wait for rescue you have to self rescue,” Moore says. 

Moore says the first thing you should do is stay calm and remove your seatbelt. If the cabin is not full of water and you can roll your window down, get out and if you can, stay with the vehicle. 

“Certainly if people try to leave their vehicle then we have found the vehicle but still looking for possible locations (of where the person could be),” Moore says. 

HFD says water 12 inches deep will float a small car, and water 18-24 inches is enough to float any SUV or truck. 

“If the cabin does fill with water you’re going to have to wait for the cabin pressure to equalize to the outside pressure and at that point you can try to open the door,” Moore says. 

If the door doesn’t open, Moore says break the window. You can use a headrest, your feet, anything you can find. 

Moore says, “You have to get out of the vehicle once it starts filling up with water.”

But one thing can be done to avoid all of this, turn around don’t drown. 

Water temperatures are in the low 50s so hypothermia is another concern. HFD is reminding people even though it’s been a couple days since the rainfall, still avoid high water at all cost. 

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(This story was originally published on March 7, 2018)

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