How to Break a Car Window in an Emergency

If you’re anything like me, your number one goal in life is not to have a hilarious obituary. That’s why I chose to never ride a roller coaster , get in a hot air balloon, or skydive – I don’t want my last thoughts to be about why I thought jumping out of a plane was a good idea. But simply avoiding the most obvious deadly situations doesn’t mean you won’t find yourself seconds away from a big dream one day. For example, your car is a death trap . Approximately 400 people drown in cars every year because water hits car windows and doors with incredible force , making them nearly impossible to open until pressure equalizes. And I hate to tell you this, but by the time the pressure equalizes, your car will be full of water and you’ll drown.

Knowing how to break car windows in an emergency is a necessity of modern life. And drowning while trapped in your car is just one of the reasons you need to know how to do it – if someone has a medical emergency in a locked car, or if a child or pet is trapped inside hot car, being able to smash that window safely and quickly could save a life. Here’s how to do it.

Know your type of glass

In the movies , breaking a car’s side window seems like a very easy thing to do. And this is one of those cases where the movie is just around the corner – tempered glass, traditionally used in the side windows of most cars, breaks easily with the right application of force. But a few years ago, the US Department of Transportation changed its rules , noting that many people are thrown out of their cars through the side windows in certain types of collisions. As a result, manufacturers began to switch from traditional tempered glass to laminated glass (which for a time was used to make front windshields). And laminated glass is much harder to break . In fact, it’s almost impossible. It just keeps cracking.

So, the first thing you should do when thinking about the many ways you can die while trapped in your car is to find out what kind of glass your car has. Please note that rear side windows can still be tempered glass even if the front ones are laminated. This is important information because you can still get out of your car in seconds if you just smash those windows.

Carry the right tools with you

When you know what kind of glass you’re dealing with, it’s important to have the right tools on hand:

  • For tempered glass, almost any blunt object will break the window: a hammer, a pry bar, a stone. Having a standard safety hammer with a built-in seatbelt cutter will make breaking a window and escaping a car quite easy. However, hammers have one big drawback: they don’t work well underwater, so if your car gets submerged, you’re out of luck , scientists say. The best bet is something you don’t have to swing, like a spring-loaded glass breaker, a center punch , or even this crazy card-shaped device . Be sure to keep the tool in the glove compartment or somewhere else where you can quickly access it in an emergency.
  • For laminated glass, you will need a different tool. Laminated glass is a durable material. Hammers – of any type – simply won’t work fast enough in an emergency. A traditional glass-breaking tool can break laminated glass enough that you can kick or pop the glass and leave the car, but the most effective laminated glass tool is what is called a glass cutter , which is a battery-powered saw that can cut glass in a matter of minutes. seconds. It’s a little more difficult than just swinging a hammer or using a spring-loaded glass breaker, but it’s the only option when you need to quickly remove a car’s side window.

However, hammers and blunt objects probably won’t work underwater – if your car’s windows are made of laminated glass and your car is submerged, you’ll need an alternative escape plan. Your best bet is to move to where the air pocket your car has got is the biggest and wait until the car is completely submerged . At this point, the pressure will equalize and you can open the door or roll down the windows.


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