Statistically, if you’re a regular driver, you’re going to have at least 3 or 4 accidents over the course of your life.
There are around 10 million car accidents every year, and these accidents cause over 2 million injuries.
When the worst happens, you need to make sure that you’re prepared and protected. Having an inexpensive tool on hand that could save the life of you and your family, tucked away somewhere in your care, is the best way to prepare and the smart thing to do.
- What to consider when buying a car safety tool?
- What does the tool offer?
- Ease of use
- Top 10 Best Car Window Breakers 2020
- 1. Best Overall Window Breaker: Resqme Key-chain Window Breaker
- 2. Best Hammer: Ztylus Stinger Emergency Hammer
- 3. Best Daily Carry Knife: Columbia River Knife Tool
- 4. Best Budget Window Breaker: VicTsing Car Safety Hammer and Seatbelt Cutters
- 5. Best USB Charging Tool: Ztylus Stinger USB Charger Window Breaker
- 6. Best Tactical Pen: Atomic Bear Tactical Pen
- 7. Best Premium Window Breaker: OUDEW Tungsten Steel Window Breaker
- 8. Best Budget Knife: EMT First Responder Tactical Knife
- 9. Best Underwater Window Breaker: VicTsing Portable Underwater Window Breaker
- 10. Best Key Chain Pepper Spray Tool: SABRE RED Safe Escape Key chain Pepper Spray and Window Breaker
- Car Escape Tool Buyers Guide
- Final Thoughts
What to consider when buying a car safety tool?
Car safety tools, or window breakers, are designed to help you and the other passengers in your vehicle escape in case of an accident. They cover the two most likely problems that could threaten you; seatbelts locking and trapping you, and not being able to open your door.
What does the tool offer?
A lot of car safety hammers are multi-tools, and have other useful extras built into them. Individual tools might have seatbelt cutters, safety lights, defensive gear, or even more built into them. Other tools on our list double-up as pepper sprays, pens or military knives.
However, while more features sound useful, if you’re just going to leave the tool in your car and never use them, you might want to pick up a cheaper and less feature-heavy product.
Ease of use
There’s no point in buying a tool to save your life, and not being able to use it when the time comes. Stressful situations can make logical thinking hard, so the easier the tool is to use, the better.
It can also be hard to practice with these tools, unless you have easy access to a junkyard or a car that you’re breaking down for scrap. If that’s the case, do everything you can to familiarise yourself with the operation of your tool, so you’re ready when the time comes.
So, hoping for the best but in expectation of the worst, let’s look at the 10 of the best and most interesting window breakers on the market today.
Top 10 Best Car Window Breakers 2020
1. Best Overall Window Breaker: Resqme Key-chain Window Breaker
A design proven throughout twenty years of production and service, the Resqme (pronounced ‘Rescue Me’) is a fantastic little window breaker that’s great whether you’re planning on leaving it in your car, or attaching it to your key chain and carrying it around with you every day.
Originally developed for first responders like EMTs, the Resqme was built to give them a tool that would be instantly accessible and light enough to carry around everywhere. But it proved so popular that it was made available on the commercial market.
It’s incredibly simple to use. As a push-type spring-loaded window breaker, to activate it is simple. Hold it in your hand, with the active end pointed outwards, and push it into the window. The force you use primes a spring inside the body of the device, which fires a tiny steel spike into the window, cracking it. This will either cause the window to shatter completely, or it will leave it broken enough that you can easily sweep or kick the remnants free.
The seatbelt cutter is equally simple. There’s a small cover to stop you from accidentally cutting yourself on the blade, which can be removed in seconds. Once that’s done, you just slide it over the seatbelt and pull sharply down.
What’s equally impressive is that all of this is packed into such a tiny package. It’s barely larger than your thumb, only 3 inches long and around 2 high. You can store this anywhere, and it’s small enough to bring with you on your daily rounds, whether in a bag or a pocket. It’s solidly made throughout from ABS plastic and stainless steel, so don’t worry about it breaking on you.
The only real downside with this tool is that a spring-type glass breaker only works on tempered glass. That means it won’t work on your wind-shield, and some newer car manufacturers are starting to change the glass used in side windows too. So, if you’ve just bought a new car, it’s worth checking.
Apart from that issue, this is a fantastic tool for any situation, and it would be very hard to go wrong when buying one.
- Tried and tested design has been saving lives for 20 years
- Incredibly easy to use.
- Twin pack, for a really good price
- Window breaker can only be used on the tempered glass in side windows, not wind-shields
2. Best Hammer: Ztylus Stinger Emergency Hammer
This isn’t just the best hammer on our list, this is the best hammer we’ve seen. Ztylus make solid and dependable emergency tools, and this hammer packs all of the options in one sleek design.
Firstly, it’s not just a hammer. Tucked away on the top of the hammer head is a spring-loaded window breaker. To use it, you push the head of the hammer against a side window in your car, which primes the spring and sends a spike of metal through the glass, breaking it.
But it also has a hardened steel glass-breaking hammer. This is great for two reasons. One, a spring-loaded window breaker will only work on tempered glass, like you find in your cars side windows. But newer models of car, as well as the front and rear windshields, are made from tougher laminated safety glass. A spring-loaded glass breaker will barely even scratch these, but a good hammer can break them, allowing you to get free.
The second advantage is that often when breaking a window with a spring tool, some or all of the glass is left in the frame. But with the hammer, you can sweep it free and keep yourself safe from cuts and other injuries.
Ztylus also recently redesigned this hammer, and it shows in how smartly made the rest of the features are. The belt cutter is on the rear of the hammerhead, which means you use it from the same grip as you would to swing the hammer, perfect in a crisis. The body is solid, and unlike some hammers has a rubber handle that really aids with grip. Finally, there’s a wide hole on the bottom end, which will accept hooks, keyrings, cable ties and more, allowing you to store this easily where you need it.
- Combines three tools and both glass breaking options, in one
- Well designed. Tough base materials and good grip
- Good value
- Short handle means there's a small chance you could cut your hand using the stinger
- The provided instructions aren't the best
3. Best Daily Carry Knife: Columbia River Knife Tool
Designed by Kit Carson, a retired Sergeant Major in the US army and renowned frontiersman, the M16 is a professional knife built for function. It’s been in use for more years than most of us have been alive, and won multiple awards. Those are some serious credentials, and they add up.
There’s a glass breaker on the bottom of the handle, which puts it in the prime position for an easy backhand swing. The belt cutter is mounted to the blade guard above your hand and points outwards, in the same direction as the point of the knife. This is a smart choice because it keeps the knife pointed away when you’re using it, and means that you can cut with a pushing motion, using the whole strength of your arm.
The blade itself is high-carbon stainless steel with a blackened titanium nitride coating. It’s sharp, and won’t lose easily use its edge. Like a lot of knives, the bottom third is serrated, but unlike almost all other blades this has Veff serrations, which are specifically designed to cut straight through ropes and cordage. That means, even if you can’t bring the belt cutter to bear, the knife will do the job.
You can easily open the blade with one hand, even when you’re holding the knife in a standard grip. Once the blade is open, it locks securely with a liner pin. This makes it impossible for the knife to flex or close under normal operation. When you do want to close it, it’s as simple as pushing the locking pin in with one finger.
This quality extends to the handle. It’s made from glass-reinforced nylon, making it light but incredibly strong. It’s lighter still because of the holes bored through it, which also really helps to keep it clean.
But the best part is that this is actually a deceptively inexpensive knife. It’s not a budget choice by any means, but it’s not expensive at all, especially considering what you get. If you’re only buying it for the safety tools, it’s probably not worth it. But if you regularly use a knife, whether for your work, or as a daily tool, this is a fantastic option when you’re looking for your next purchase.
- Every single part of the knife is top quality
- Light and easy to use
- Incredibly tough and resistant to corrosion
- The most expensive tool on our list, for good reason
4. Best Budget Window Breaker: VicTsing Car Safety Hammer and Seatbelt Cutters
The quintessential car safety tool, the VicTsing safety hammer has literally everything you need in your safety gear in one convenient little package. First off, the safety hammer is made of high-grade carbon steel. It’s also double-ended, which is excellent, because it means no matter which way you end up picking this up when you grab it in a panic, you can still comfortably swing it, saving valuable seconds.
The seatbelt cutter is also made out of the same high-grade steel, meaning it’s razor-sharp and should effortlessly cut through a belt. At less than one-third of a pound, it’s light and simple to wield, but has enough weight at the end of its 6.7-inch handle to easily crack through any standard car window.
The holding case thoughtfully comes with two mounting brackets so the whole thing can be held in place with just two screws. The hammer locks securely into position, but clicks out with little effort. If you don’t want to drill a hole in your car (which is understandable), we’ve also seen people say that sticking a Velcro patch onto the back of the hammer works perfectly well. The body of the hammer also has a light reflective patch that can really help with finding it.
As one of the lower-priced models in our list, you’re not getting flashy technology or interesting features. Just two reliable hammers that should do exactly what you need them to do when a crisis hits.
- Light but strong
- Both tools are made from high-quality steel
- Incredibly good value
- Very basic
5. Best USB Charging Tool: Ztylus Stinger USB Charger Window Breaker
A lot of safety tools on this list are just that, tools. They are just going to sit in your car, waiting for the day they need to be used. There’s a good chance that, when that time comes, they’re going to be hard to grab hold of, unless you intentionally keep them somewhere accessible.
But this tool is different. On top of being an easy to use, high-quality window breaker, it’s also a dual USB charger – perfect for phones, tablets and other personal items. It plugs into your car charger or cigarette lighter, like any other USB charger, and has two ports ready for use.
Each charger has been rigorously tested and certified, and the intelligent circuits built into it regulate power flow, preventing the charger from overheating and protecting your devices from overcharging or short-circuiting.
The fact that this is a USB charger is also another plus for one big reason. Most car charger ports are in easily accessible places, so in an emergency you’ll know where this is. It’s also been specifically designed to be used with the same grip that you would pull it out of the charging port with.
To use it, you wrap your fingers around the base handle and pull it straight out, holding it something like a pistol. Then just push the end into a window to engage the spring-loaded glass breaker. The seatbelt cutter is equally simple. It’s at a 90-degree angle to the glass breaker, which gives you a lot of leverage when you pull it down and makes cutting through the seatbelt easy.
It’s actually easy enough that your kids could use it. That’s a serious point, and a minor negative. You have to make sure that your children don’t get hold of this. It’s that simple to use, and a young child could easily break a window with it, whether by accident or on purpose. But as long as you know where this is, you’ve got an awesome little USB charger that could just save your life.
- Works as a USB charger for all your gadgets
- The charger design means you will always know where this is
- The design makes it really easy to hold and use
- Keep it away from your children if you don't want broken windows
6. Best Tactical Pen: Atomic Bear Tactical Pen
Simple but rugged, tactical pens are commonly carried as a self-defense tool, but this pen could also save your life in a car accident.
First off, it’s worth pointing out that this is a fully functioning pen and can be refilled by all good ballpoint brands, so you don’t have to worry about replacing the entire thing when you run out of ink.
The body is made from military-grade aluminum, and the whole thing is very well built throughout. It’s easy to hold, and really balanced whether you’re holding it like a pen or as a tool. Slightly thicker than a normal pen, it sits well in the palm without being bulky, and it’s comfortable whether you’re a 5-foot woman or a 250-pound man with shovels for hands.
The cap clicks onto both ends, which is how you access the glass breaker as well as the pen. Once the cap is down, you can wrap your thumb around the end of the pen, giving you a secure grip for powerful strikes. The glass breaker itself is made of hardened tungsten, the same metal that high power cutting tools are made out of, so it keeps its edge for years. Unfortunately, it’s not able to cut belts.
Simple and unobtrusive, this pen can be carried everywhere, especially in the provided belt sheath. It keeps you safe no matter where you go or whose car you’re traveling in. It’s an effective enough tool that you could easily buy this just for the glass breaking option built into a great little pen, but if you’re also interested in the self-defense side, buying this also gives you access to Atomic Bear’s online self-defense courses.
- Tough and functional, but works like a normal pen
- Can easily be carried around day to day
- Will last for years if looked after
- It's only a glass breaker, no belt cutter or other functions
One of the strongest and most well-built safety hammers on the market, if you’re looking for reliability and power, this could be the right choice for you.
It’s made of bright aluminum. It’s attractive, looking like a high-quality, high-cost tool, but you’re not really buying it for that. Why this matters is it means it stands out instantly. When you need it, you can find it – even in low light conditions – as the polished body will catch any light and shine, making it simple to see. The fact that the handle is aluminum alloy rather than plastic also means that it’s very tough and it’s not going to snap under stress.
The twin head design is smart, with a pointed head for breaking the window, and a flat head that can shatter the broken remnants of glass from the frame. The hammer head is tungsten steel, so it’s incredibly hard, and should punch cleanly through the thickest safety glass. It’s also heavy, which is great because it this gives you far more power in your swing.
A lot of plastic safety tools place the seatbelt cutter at the opposite end to the hammer, at a 45-degree angle. On this tool, the seatbelt cutter is directly below the head of the hammer, at a flat 90 degrees. Not only does this mean you can use both tools from the same hand position that you would swing it from, meaning you won’t have to awkwardly spin it around in a crisis; it also means that when you pull it down, you can use the full force and weight of your arm. This gives you more leverage and makes cutting through the seal-belt easier.
If you do decide to pick this up, you also get a safety lid, so this won’t scratch the inside of your car when it’s being stored. If you want the most power out of your hammer, and the best chance of breaking a window with a manual tool, this hammer is a great choice.
- Heavy, well-made hammer puts more power behind the tungsten steel tip
- Excellent design, including the position of the belt cutter
- Made of good materials that won't fail or corrode
- Not the cheapest of the safety hammers
8. Best Budget Knife: EMT First Responder Tactical Knife
As a dependable day-to-day knife, there’s a lot to offer here. The knife itself is solid, especially considering the budget price you pay. It’s a 3 and a half-inch steel folding blade that’s spring-assisted, so it flips out instantly when you need it with a surprisingly smooth action. Once the blade it out, it locks in place so it’s not going to fold back on you when in use.
The handle is light but tough aluminum with precision milled handgrips, which makes it easy to hold whether open or closed. It’s just over 5 inches long when shut, and the lightweight and belt clip make this a great little gadget that you can keep with you and barely notice you have it, until you need it.
In terms of safety tools, it has everything you might need to escape a car. There’s a window breaker built into the structure of the handle, right at the bottom point. This gives you ample leverage when swinging it, and lends itself to a simple downward hammer swing, giving you a lot of force. The belt cutter is also bottom-mounted, and can be used with any grip.
Considering the price, this knife offers a huge amount. It’s very low cost, but high performance, and it’s perfect if you’re regularly out and are looking for a backup knife to leave in your car that can also save your life if you have an accident.
- Dependable day-to-day knife
- High-quality stainless steel blades
- Really easy to use, for all its functions
- Blade locking mechanism isn't the easiest to use
9. Best Underwater Window Breaker: VicTsing Portable Underwater Window Breaker
Portable and tough, the VicTsing safety tool is a key chain design that’s perfect for leaving in your car because it’s so small and unobtrusive. It’s definitely hard-wearing, because the body is made out of tough polycarbonate plastic, which is much tougher than standard ABS, and the spike is a tungsten steel mix, which is significantly harder than normal steel.
The whole thing is bright red and yellow, which you’ll be thankful for in an emergency, as it makes the tool much easier to see, especially if it’s in a crowded glove box. But because of the design choice to attach the keyring chain to the blade cover, you could also hang this from somewhere in your car, allowing you to grab it and pull it free in an emergency.
The window breaker is a high-quality tungsten steel spike that is loaded from an 8kg spring. It’s rated to break up to 10mm windows, which means it’s going to break anything except toughened emergency glass.
The seatbelt cutter is similarly high quality, with a stainless steel blade. Unlike a lot of blades, it’s placed at a 90-degree angle against the body of the tool, which can make cutting slightly more awkward, but it’s still perfectly usable.
- High quality all round. Strong construction, solid and dependable tools
- Good value, with two tools for one good price
- Easy use, and works underwater
- Seatbelt blade is in a strange place
- Odd design choice for key holder means you could lose it
10. Best Key Chain Pepper Spray Tool: SABRE RED Safe Escape Key chain Pepper Spray and Window Breaker
A lot of the tools on this list are designed to be left in your car all the time, and would only ever be used in emergencies. If you’d prefer something that you can keep with you at all times, and something that’s going to keep you safe whether you’re driving or walking, this little gadget is perfect.
First off, it’s a fully functioning pepper gel spray, made by Sabre Red. Sabre Red is a worldwide brand who primarily make products for emergency services, and law enforcement officials worldwide rely on Sabre products to keep them safe every single day.
That same protection is now available to the general public. The pepper gel spray itself is really easy to use, with a simple flip-top design that keeps the activation trigger covered unless you need it, but that can be accessed in literal seconds. It’s small enough to fit in a pocket, because it’s only 4 inches high and 2 wide, and it comes with a built-in snap clip so you can attach it to handbags, belts or anything else that has a loop.
Pepper gel sprays 20% further than pepper spray, with an effective range of about 12 feet. It’s also less affected by wind and can be used inside, or in sensitive environments, because there are no airborne particles. Instead, it fires a jet of gel that coats whatever you’re aiming at. You get 25 bursts from a standard cartridge, and it lasts for around 4 years before you need to replace it, which is twice the industry standard.
As a safety tool, it’s respectable. There’s a stainless steel spike on the bottom of the spray body that’s built for smashing through windows, and the spray itself is easy to hold so you get a lot of leverage. When not in use, there’s a small rubber button that covers the spike, so you can comfortably throw this into any bag you own without worrying about it catching or tearing on anything.
The seatbelt cutter is also built right into the body, and is equally good quality. It’s built very close to the main body, much closer than others we’ve seen, so it might take a second or two longer to slide over the belt. But once you’ve got it over the belt, that same factor will keep it tight to the body and make it much easier to slice through and escape.
The only issue is that the construction isn’t the absolute best. Occasionally, sections will come loose or fall off, but a touch of glue will hold everything together perfectly. Still, it’s a shame to point that out, as the rest of the product is so good.
Overall, this is a great little tool. Everything it does, it does well. It’s also cheap enough that you could buy this for the pepper gel protection alone, and consider the belt cutter and glass breaker as extras.
- Pepper gel is powerful and effective
- High-quality escape tools built-in
- Tiny and portable. Perfect day to day gadget
- Dedicated safety tools are a little easier to use
- Construction of the body isn't the best
Car Escape Tool Buyers Guide
What to do when you have an accident
As much as we might not want to admit it, accidents are a part of driving. No matter how careful you are, you simply can’t account for other drivers, wildlife and other hazards. All you can do is prepare yourself for the inevitable, so if and when you’re involved in an accident, you’re ready to deal with it.
Having a good set of tools for the situation is important, but so is being ready and able to use them. So keep reading to find out what you should do.
The accident checklist
- First, check to see if you are injured. If you think you are seriously injured, try not to move unless you have no other choice.
- If possible, call emergency services, or ask someone else to do so for you.
- Once you know your own state, check to see if any other passengers are injured.
- Turn on your vehicle hazard lights to help prevent further accidents. If you have emergency lights or flares, set them up away from your car, to warn oncoming traffic of the accident site.
- Call the required emergency services
- If it’s safe, move away from your vehicle to a position away from the road.
- If you have been involved in an accident with another vehicle, check on the passengers. If everyone is safe, make sure to exchange the required information:
- Your full name and method of contact
- Insurance company and number
- Your driver’s license details and your vehicle license plate
- The type, make and model of your vehicle
- Where the accident happened, and other relevant details
Call the emergency services
As soon as it is safe to do so, this should be priority number one.
Even if you don’t need an ambulance or the fire service, the police should be notified. In some states, it’s actually a legal requirement that police be called if you involved in a traffic accident.
Emergency services on the scene and completed police reports can also help with insurance claims, and the advice of a trained professional who is used to emergency situations can be invaluable.
Try and stay calm
It’s both obvious and proven that stress causes people’s decision-making process to fall to pieces, and being involved in an accident is a seriously stressful situation for most people.
The calmer you are, the better you will be able to deal with the issues at hand, and there will be much less chance that you make the wrong decisions or get yourself or the people you care about in more trouble.
Once you’ve checked to see if everyone is unhurt and you know that you are in no danger, take a moment to breathe deeply. It might sound silly, but just three controlled breaths can slow your heart rate and calm you down enough to make a difference.
How to use your escape tools
When you buy most of the tools on this list, you should receive some instructions as part of the package. But in our experience, some instructions aren’t the best at communicating the intricacies of these tools. So here’s how to best use each of the tools we’ve featured in our reviews.
How to use a spring-loaded window breaker
Spring-loaded window breakers are designed to be simple to use. Normally, using a spring-loaded window breaker is as easy as pushing the active end into the window. The force used to push the tool against the window primes an internal spring, which loads and fires the window punch, breaking the window.
It’s best to aim the tool at the top of the window. Breaking the window lower down could cause broken glass to fall onto your hand, causing injury.
Car windows are made of safety glass, and windows from cars made in the last few years will almost certainly have a film on them. This prevents the window from shattering in the case of an accident. It also means that punching a hole in it with a window breaking tool sometimes isn’t enough to clear the window frame of glass, as the broken glass will be held in place by the safety film.
If the glass stays in place, it’s generally simple to remove as it’s shattered and the structure is gone. If possible, lay back and kick the remainder free. If you have to use your hand, it’s best to cover your hand and arm with something like a coat or jumper first.
How to use a glass hammer
You might think that using a tiny hammer like the tools we’ve reviewed to break a window could be difficult. But nothing’s further from the truth. Because they are designed specifically to break glass, the amount of force required to shatter a window is almost nothing. This is fantastic in emergency situations, but be careful when handling your tools around your car, and don’t leave them anywhere a child could get their hands on them. Even a young child can break a window with one of these tools.
To use one of these tools is simple. Hold it like you would a normal hammer, and give the window a sharp tap. Aim for one of the top corners of the window. This will give you a clean break and prevents the broken glass from falling down onto your hand once it has been broken.
Again, most car windows will be made from safety glass and have a protective film. The hammer won’t normally shatter the entire window. Instead, it will punch a small hole in it, and crack the remaining glass. This means that once you’ve cracked the window with the hammer, you’ll probably have to remove the glass from the window frame, which you can do using your foot, or a covered hand.
How to use a seatbelt cutter
Most car escape tools also come with seatbelt cutters built into them, because accidents can easily lock a seatbelt in place and prevent you from getting free.
Thankfully, seatbelt cutters are really simple to use. Most take the form of a sharp blade built into the body of your tool, with guide sections that you slot the belt into.
To use a seatbelt cutter, hold it in one hand and slide the belt into the guides. If possible, pull the belt taut upwards away from the buckle with your other hand, as it will make it much easier to cut the belt. Then pull the cutter down into the seatbelt with steady force. It should easily slice through the belt, freeing whoever is trapped by it.
If the blade doesn’t cut through the belt, or catches halfway through, wiggle it to free strands of the belt that might be obstructing the cut. If that doesn’t work, remove it from the belt completely and cut in a second area, holding the belt as taut as possible.
Where should I keep my escape tool?
There are several places in your car that are obvious choices for your escape tool, and a few more that seem obvious but actually aren’t suitable.
- Firstly, some tools might be built for specific areas, for example USB charger tools. If so, place them here if possible.
- If your tool isn’t built with a specific location in mind, you want to place it in an area that doesn’t obstruct your normal driving and is stable so the tool won’t end up under a seat or somewhere else hard to reach.
- Good candidates are the door storage compartments, or in the central compartment.
- You might think that the glove box is a good location. This is only true if your glove box is relatively clear of junk and you can easily reach it from the driver’s seat, just in case your seatbelt locks.
Any tool is better than no tools in a crisis. It’s far better to spend the money, be prepared and never have to use your survival tools than end up in an accident and not have what you need. The window breakers on this list come in a wide variety of options, from pens to pepper sprays, so perhaps something here will be useful to you in more ways than just an emergency device. Haven’t found what you’re looking for? There are other car safety tools available that might be useful for you. Stay safe on the road.
We hope that this list has given you everything you need to make the right decision to keep you and your family safe. Stay vigilant and prepared, and we hope you never have to use the tools you buy.