When you live in Tampa you’ll be driving over and around water almost daily. In 2017 there were 11 people who were killed in Florida when their vehicles crashed in water. According to the American Automobile Association, in 2018 about 21,000 crashes in which 1,800 people died throughout the United States. There are some tools that you can use to help you escape from your vehicle if it becomes submerged in water or catches on fire. These will help you break through a window and free yourself.
What These Tools Are
There are both spring-loaded and hammer-style tools available. The spring-loaded tools can break tempered windows, which are the type of windows that most cars have. Unfortunately, the hammer-style tools don’t work nearly as well. When tested there was only one that could crack the glass while the other two did nothing, even after the window was struck with it 5 times. Neither the spring-loaded or hammer-style tools could break the laminated glass that’s growing popular in most new cars today. This is a really strong glass that’s able to keep people from being ejected from the vehicle when they get into a crash. It’s this additional security that makes it harder to break out of these vehicles if you’re trapped in one of them. These discoveries were made after the American Automobile Association tested these tools.
Choosing the Right Tool for Your Vehicle
According to the Hillsborough County Fire Rescue Deputy Chief of Operations everyone should have some type of tool in their vehicle. Most of these tools cost under $15 and are worth much more when they help you escape from an accident. They’re also quite small – typically only about the size of chapstick. Mark Jenkins, spokesman for AAA in Tampa highly recommends buying a spring-loaded tool instead of a hammer-style one. He says this is important because if you have the wrong tool it’ll be worthless at the time of an accident. To know what type of tool you need, look at the bottom corner of your vehicle’s side window where you’ll discover whether you have tempered or laminated glass in your vehicle. If the information isn’t there, contact the vehicle’s manufacturer. They can also tell you if different windows throughout your vehicle also use different types of glass.
Knowing What to do at the Time of an Accident
Being well-educated about these tools before you need to use them is very important. You should also have an emergency plan formed in your head before you get into a car crash since this will save you precious time if an emergency does arise. When you get into a car crash Dougherty says that you only have 30 – 120 seconds to escape from your vehicle. Unfortunately, this isn’t much time which is why you need to have a plan ahead of time and do your best to remain calm when you must enact the plan. Both he and Jenkins also stress the importance of keeping the item easily accessible so you don’t waste time trying to find it when you need to use it – hence wasting precious time.
One of the best ways to store this tool is to simply use a piece of Velcro to affix it beneath your steering wheel. This will only work for small tools, but AAA says you shouldn’t buy one that has additional features anyway since this won’t improve the tool’s performance. Instead, these additional features simply make the tool bigger, clunkier, and harder to use.
Picture Credit: Wade Austin Ellis