Survival Kit Contents: Escape Tools and Emergency Hammers for Your Car
Bad Things DO Happen
What would you do if you were in an accident and got trapped in your car? It happens frequently that in a collision, the vehicle frame and/or body can shift and make it impossible to open the doors. Auto glass is stronger than people think. Ever seen an episode of COPS where the officers throw a bad guy in the back seat and he proceeds to kick at the windows repeatedly, and yet rarely do they ever actually break the glass? Yeah, that kind of strong.
So, imagine being trapped in your car and it’s sinking in a river. Or imagine it catches on fire. What would you do? How would you get out? What if your vehicle was sinking in a river or a lake and you couldn't get your seatbelt off? Or worse someone you love? I know that's scary to think about but it really does happen sometimes. Yes, not very often, but often enough. I've seen people blow off this sort of thing (I've included a perfect example of someone dismissing safety down near the bottom of this article), and ignore the facts. So to start this off, I'll show you a recent video of how real this is. And this is just ONE video. There have been many on television in the recent past, stories of police and fire professionals pulling people out of rivers and burning vehicles. Have a look at the video to the right. (Spoiler, the guy makes it, so it's not too horrible to watch.)
Use a Hammer? ... NOT!
So yes, it can happen. But the point is not to creep people out. The point is that you can equip your vehicle as part of assembling a survival kit and related tools to prevent problems like the one in that news video. But ordinary tools aren't necessarily good enough. Imagine for a second that you get stuck, or better yet, to lighten the mood, that you came across someone else in a dire, stuck-in-the-car situation and you wanted to help him or her get out. If you couldn’t open the door, how would you get them out? Grab a rock? A flashlight out of your trunk? Maybe a hammer out of your trunk if you happen to carry one? That would work, right? A hammer. Heck yeah. ... Or mabey not (see video).
Get a safety hammer. When it comes to automotive survival kit contents, this is a good one. (For a complete list of items you should use, you can check out THIS article as well). They’re cheap, and, unlike the hammer in that video, they are shaped to break the glass. It’s not always about how hard you hit something, it’s about hitting it correctly. You can ask any martial arts expert about that. They don’t break bricks or boards because they hit them super hard. They hit them RIGHT. That is the purpose and the thinking behind the design of the numerous varieties of emergency safety hammers you can buy.
I’ve taken a bit of time to look over several and will list them here to save you having to do all the searching I just did. Take a look at each, you can go to their websites and read around, or, if you want, just pick one that fits your budget and move on with your life. The good ones all come with easy mounting kits, and instructions on how to install them, so, in a few moments after receiving yours in the mail, you can have it in place.
The Original Orange LifeHammer
The LifeHammer (often referred to as the Orange LifeHammer) is an original product and a very popular one. On their website they say, “This tool answers the need for an escape tool tailored specifically for vehicle entrapment.” That sums it up pretty nicely. As you recall, the news reporter couldn’t bust out that window with a carpenter’s hammer, a big metal hammer! Well, this one is made for the job. This is the martial arts of window breaking hammers. And more. It has features for cutting stuck seatbelts. Check out the videos I've included below. The fire department tests show it works well for glass and cutting seatbelts. You definitely want to get a good safety hammer or you might end up with one like the guy in the third video (below the Amazon capsules with the hammers in them), one that doesn’t work so well.
One thing to keep in mind about these emergency hammers is that, while I include them as something that you should buy as part of your automotive survival kit, you need to keep them close to you. You can't toss them in a box in the trunk. That's why they come with mounting kits. The reason you need a “mounting kit,” is because you want to have your emergency safety hammer within arms reach if you get in a wreck. Keeping it in a tool kit or in a survival kit in the trunk of your car doesn’t do you any good if you are TRAPPED inside of your vehicle. A mounting kit puts it in reach, where you need it, if you need it. That’s just good thinking.
Get One Today
Don't Go Cheap (profanity alert!)
One thing I'd like to point out before moving on to the next one, is that these things aren't very expensive. They make great gifts, especially with the pink thing going on, which, I'm not sure why, but that just amuses the heck out of me. But beyond the fact that they don't cost much, given what they are supposed to do, I don't recommend buying a cheap one from out of the bargain bucket on the counter of the auto parts store. Here's why: Do really want a cheap tool when it comes time to saving your own or someone else's life? So spend the extra five bucks. (Here's the video I promised you up above, the "seat belt slice FAIL!" lol. Oh, the guy uses a little bit of profanity, so if you are opposed to that sort of thing, don't watch. It's kind of funny, in a down home sort of way.)
ResQMe Key Chain Tool - THESE are cool!
THESE are my favorites out of everything I found. Mostly just for the "awesome" factor. This tool is made by the same people who make the LifeHammer above. It breaks glass and it cuts seatbelts, but it does it in a fancier way, it's got a spring-loaded functionality that makes it totally easy to bust out the glass. The fancy is why I like it, but I suppose the spring-loaded thing might also have the potential to not work at the worst time if its been lying in a car for a decade before it finally needs to be used. But, that said, I doubt that is an overwhelming probability, and the only reason I bring it up is because I do tend to prefer simplicity wherever possible. That said, you have to watch the video, and you'll see why this one is my favorite (besides the fact that it comes in lots of cool colors).
ResQMe - By far the most fun of my list
You HAVE to see this!
Seriously, check it out (and just wait for the boring beginning interview, it doesnt' take long, and is worth the wait). This thing is VERY cool. Check out how this thing whips through a seatbelt and how it’s got this little ram-like function that busts a window easily. Frankly, this thing is awesome, and it comes in lots of colors, so you can even accessorize. It’s the kind of thing that makes a great gift idea too. It’s small, it fits in stockings for Christmas, or just give it any time. Got a teenager getting his or her driver’s license, or his or her first car? A college graduate you’re giving a car to? THIS thing is cool.
Accutire Emergency Hammer
The last one on my list is the Accutire emergency hammer. This one is pretty cool looking, and it has a tire air pressure gauge on it, which is a good thing to have. Most people know they are supposed to have a tire gauge in their car, truck or SUV, but they don’t. Since the TREAD act mandated that from 2008 on, all cars sold in the U.S. have to have air pressure monitoring systems in them, it’s probably a good idea for you take that “have a tire gauge in your car” thing seriously. You’re going to see the little indicator light come on one day on your dash and when you show up to the gas station, you can either trust that battered old air nozzle or use a good pressure gauge like this one and get it right. Tires are expensive these days, so it can pay to be accurate (plus, who likes a dash light coming on?). So, this safety hammer would be a good part of your survival kit tools (except keep this one inside the passenger compartment), and it doubles as your tire pressure gauge. You kill two birds with one stone.
Survival Kit Contents - Conclusion
Anyway, I think you can see the value of having these devices, especially if you watched the opening news video of the guy stuck in his car. Despite what naysayers like THIS say about these things, people DO get stuck in their cars and they DO find themselves with no way to get out. Spend a few bucks and prevent a tragedy—for yourself or for someone else. Hopefully you never have to use it. But hey, at least you can get the LifeHammer and ResQMe ones in pretty colors. Think of it as an accessory.
- Auto Survival Kits - Emergency Kits for Cars: How to make a survival kit for your car
A complete list of items to help you build a survival kit / emergency kit for your car or as a gift. Includes descriptions of items and explanations for why some of the less obvious items are included, uses and value. A must read for all drivers.
- Coffee can survival kit for winter driving - Wisconsin Department of Transportation
How to make a coffee can survival kit for winter driving. This is a really cool supplemental to the link above, detailing some survival kit theory behind one of the items on the bigger list above.
- WSDOT - Winter Driving - Emergency Car Kit
Recommendations from the state of Washington on items to keep in your vehicle, including a list of survival kit contents.
Straight to the point list of survival kit contents for winter from people in Montana who know what winter looks like.
- This isn't exactly the same... but this site has cool stuff.
Here's their description: Preparing for disaster? Urban Survival Tools offers the survival kits, survival gear and emergency preparedness information you need for man made or natural disasters.