Whether it’s an abduction or a prank gone wrong, if you find yourself trapped in the trunk of a car, you’ll want to get out quickly.
Here are a few tips that experts recommend to help make an escape:Pull the trunk release. Thanks to a national law, all American cars made after 2002 (except hatchbacks, SUVs and other models without separate trunks) are required to have a release latch inside the trunk. It is often glow-in-the-dark and located near the trunk latch.
But if you can’t find it, feel around: The release could also be a cord, button, or toggle switch, or a handle that does not illuminate.
Don’t panic. This tip won’t get you out on its own — and it’s definitely easier said than done when you’re in a life-or-death situation — but keeping a cool head can help buy you time.
Experts say that trunks aren’t totally airtight and, depending on body size and weight, it can take over 12 hours to run out of oxygen. Hyperventilation, however, can cut this time considerably, so try to take deep, calming breaths. This will allow you to listen to what’s going on outside, be aware of sounds that can help identify where the kidnapper is driving and when they are stopping, and focus on an escape plan.Feel around for tools. If your kidnapper hasn’t taken your cell phone, you can use it as a light source — and if they have, try to assess what else could be helpful. Can you feel a flashlight, crowbar, or pliers?
All can be used to help break through the backseat, or pry a panel off the brake lights (see below), or even be used as a weapon against your captors if they open the trunk.
Brittany Diggs, the Alabama nursing student who escaped after her kidnapper stuffed her into the trunk of her own car, was able to find the trunk release latch using the light from her insulin pump.
Pull the trunk-release cable. If the car has a trunk release that can be accessed by a lever near the driver’s seat, it should have a cable in the trunk — which you can pull in order to open the trunk latch. Feel around the floor of the car, and along the side of the trunk to locate it — and, if you find it, pull in the direction of the front of the car.
Escape through the backseat. In the event that the kidnapper leaves you unattended, some cars have backseats that fold down to allow access to the trunk.
Generally, the release for these seats is located inside the car, but there may be one in the trunk as well — if that doesn’t work, you can try to kick through the seat to climb out through the back seat.
Kick the brake lights out. You can pull or pry off the panel to access the brake lights, and then rip the wires out. Then try to push or kick the lights through so that they fall out of the back of the vehicle. The objective is to create a hole, which you can then stick your hand through to signal passing motorists.
Even if you can’t get your hands out, disconnecting the wires can increase the chance of the driver getting pulled over because the brake lights or taillights aren’t functioning.
Main photo: Andrea Canning demonstrates how to escape from a trunk on Dateline [NBC News/YouTube (screenshot)]