Every year, millions of cars crash in the United States. Tens of thousands of those crashes result in fatalities. If you do crash, you may find yourself trapped by a seat belt or windows that are stuck closed. In situations where escaping a wreck is of the essence, this little tool can give you an edge.
Over the last few weeks we’ve cleaned up with an ultrasonic cleaner, kept our batteries full with a solar-powered battery trickle charger and used a right angle drill adapter to help with bodywork. This week’s Cool Tool is an emergency escape tool.
A car crash can be a terrifying experience. You’re already confused and maybe stunned from the initial crash, but now you may be facing a scenario where you have to escape. Perhaps your vehicle is smoking, on fire, or about to catch on fire. Perhaps you’ve crashed into a body of water and now the vehicle is sinking. In these situations, you need to get out right away. But you may find yourself trapped by doors that won’t open or a seat belt that you can’t get off.
If you’ve hung around YouTube and car forums as I have, you probably know of some suggestions to escape being trapped in the car. Some say that you can break windows using a headrest or a sun visor. Or perhaps you can carry something like a hammer or a screwdriver in your glovebox. If your car’s on fire or sinking, every second counts and you need to get out as fast as possible.
The problem with these methods, as explained by YouTube channel Adventures With Purpose, is that they may not work. Thankfully, there are emergency escape tools to shatter windows and cut seat belts in just seconds.
A window breaker and seat belt cutting tool can save you precious seconds after a crash and they’re easy to use. Line the glass breaker up with a corner of a window then hit the punch to shatter it. Slice the cutter through a seat belt to cut it in half.
Adventures With Purpose is a team of scuba divers with experience in emergency response. They have solved a number of cold cases involving drivers that have crashed into bodies of water and found themselves unable to escape. The team says that evidence shows that in 50 percent of the cars they’ve found underwater, the occupants could have escaped if they could have broken a window.
The team explains that not all vehicles will have removable headrests. And sun visors can take a lot of time to remove — time you may not have. Even if you can get the visors out, there’s no guarantee they could break a window. So you really want a tool that you can trust to get the job done.
Sadly, not all of these tools were created equally. In the above video, a $30 multi-tool with a glass breaker and seat belt cutter couldn’t smash a window. Years ago, I tried out a cheap one that also failed to work in a junkyard car. So you want to check reviews and videos for the ones that actually work as advertised.
An emergency escape tool that’s well known to work is the Resqme for about $10.
The one used by Adventures With Purpose is sold by the channel’s online store for $6.95.
One caveat about these tools is that they do not work well on laminated glass. A number of newer vehicles use laminated glass for side windows. These are great for holding up in crashes and adding a layer of sound deadening but can make escape harder. AAA’s Laminated Glass Vehicle List is accurate as of 2020.
Do you know of a weird or unique tool that wrenchers can benefit from? Do you want to see us put a type of tool to the test and see how it performs? Shoot me an email or drop it down in the comments!