Public knowledge, attitudes and practices of vehicle submersion incidents: a pilot study

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McDonald, Gerren K
Moser, Cheryl A
Giesbrecht, Gordon G
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Abstract Introduction Vehicle submersions account for up to 10% of all drownings in high-income countries. Reports indicate that occupants may be conscious and functional, but possibly making incorrect decisions for self-rescue leading to drowning. This study investigated current public knowledge, attitudes and practices regarding vehicle submersion incidents and to determine if individuals, who are aware of educational efforts regarding vehicle submersions, indicated better responses. Method A knowledge, attitude and practice (KAP) survey was developed based on previous findings and guidelines from Operation ALIVE (Automobile submersion: Lessons In Vehicle Escape) for vehicle submersion incidents. Results The majority of respondents (87%) had knowledge of vehicle submersions from the media, but they were not aware (94%) of an effective self-rescue protocol. Respondents felt they had low risk of involvement in a vehicle submersion, and that the chance of survival was likely. Most respondents selected a “successful” initial action for escape; however, other responses indicate the chances of completing a successful self-rescue sequence was less likely. Only 45% of respondents were “aware” of Operation ALIVE educational initiatives, and this awareness did not generally produce better responses. Conclusions Public understanding of vehicle submersion incidents is low and current public education efforts have not increased awareness in the severity or the urgency for performing self-rescue in this scenario. Simply increasing public knowledge of “SWOC” (“SEATBELTS” off, “WINDOWS” open, “OUT” immediately, “CHILDREN” first) would help to decrease the high fatality rate associated with this type of road traffic accident.
Injury Epidemiology. 2019 Jun 03;6(1):21