If you could get a device that costs less than a sandwich but could save you and your family’s lives, wouldn’t you be interested? Emergency window breakers (also called safety hammers, escape tools, or rescue tools) are inexpensive, portable devices designed to prevent people from being trapped inside a car after an accident.
Which is the best emergency window breaker? There are a lot of options available, so the best emergency window breaker for you will depend on your budget and the features you want. However, some of the best-rated choices include:
- Resqme: The Original Keychain Car Escape Tool
- Lifehammer Brand Safety Hammer
- VicTsing Car Safety Hammer
Since it’s a simple tool, most any window breaker will fulfill its primary function. At a minimum, these tools feature a hard metal tip for breaking the window and a seatbelt cutting blade, but you can also get versions with far more features.
To understand which emergency window breaker is right for you, in this article, we list some considerations to keep in mind as you shop, as well as review six of the best options available on the market.
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Not all emergency window breakers are the same; most of them have different features and additions that may appeal to anyone who wants that extra layer of safety on hand. The following are factors you should consider when looking for a new emergency window breaker:
Emergency window breakers use one of two types of force to break the window:
- Spring-loaded safety hammers have a spring trigger mechanism that prevents the user from needing to swing the hammer.
- Manual window breakers depend on the force of your arm swinging to break the window and may be more challenging to use for some people.
Make sure the size and style of the emergency window breaker are appropriate for the most likely user. People with small or large hands should take that into consideration, as should those with health conditions that might make certain models more suitable than others.
You’ll want to be sure the tip for breaking the window is made of steel or carbide. Some cheaper hammers are made with inferior metals. While they are probably capable of breaking tempered glass, in an emergency, you will want to get the job done as quickly and easily as possible.
Also, check the construction of the handle and other parts. Even the best quality carbide tip won’t be useful if the handle comes off when you try to use it. Be cautious about emergency window breakers that come on a keychain, as they can sometimes become detached due to plastic connectors that aren’t durable.
This won’t be important to everyone, but if attractive design matters to you, rest assured that you can get emergency window breakers in a variety of colors and styles. Design is more likely to be a consideration for people who are attaching these to a visor or keychain than those who are tucking them away in a center console.
If you can’t find your safety hammer in the event of an accident, there’s no point in having one. Remember, you may be in the dark or even underwater when you need this tool. Some models come with glow in the dark paint or reflective stickers to help you locate them, or have a case that can be attached to your car’s interior. You’ll even see one model on our list that doubles as a USB charger, so you’ll always know its location in your console.
There’s no right answer to the question of how much a car escape tool should cost, as you can find one for any budget. For most people, it’s a one-time or never used item, so they don’t want to invest a lot. On the other hand, first responders who will use this often or people who just want more features on their emergency window breaker may think it worth a few extra dollars to buy a more expensive model.
The basics of a car escape tool are the window breaker and the seat belt cutter. You can also find these two features combined with a variety of other functions for a multi-purpose emergency tool. Popular additional features are flashlights, knives, alarms, and emergency signal lights.
If you’re in a situation where you need to escape from a vehicle, it’ll be essential to have a tool that doesn’t require a lot of force or many complicated steps. Car safety hammers are not difficult to use, but being in an emergency can make it harder to think straight. Read the instructions when you receive the product, and assess your car windows to identify the best point to break them.
Remember that you’ll want to keep your safety hammer somewhere that’s easy for you to access. Many people store them in their glove compartments, while others feel more secure if it’s closer to the driver’s seat—in the center console or door pocket next to them, or even mounted to the dashboard. Some models are made to attach to your visor with elastic holders.
Regardless of where you decide to keep your safety hammer, be sure that it is held securely in place, so it doesn’t cause injury in an accident. The impact of a collision could make this device a dangerous projectile.
If you’re trapped in a vehicle, be sure to free yourself and your passengers from seatbelts before breaking the window. To cut a seatbelt, it will be easier to cut at a 45-degree angle instead of straight across. Make sure there’s tension in the seatbelt by holding it firmly away from yourself with one hand while cutting with the other.
Vehicle windows are made to resist shattering in a variety of situations, so that’s why you will have much better luck with a specialized tool than something you just happen to have nearby. An emergency window breaker’s hammer is both super hard and sharp, so it concentrates the force and can shatter the glass without much effort on your part.
The best place to break a window is in the corner. Corners are weaker and more rigid, while the middle of the window has more room to flex and absorb the force of the hammer. Smaller corners break more easily than larger ones.
- To break a window with a spring-loaded safety hammer, remove the protective cover and then press the hammer end firmly against the window in the area you have identified. The spring mechanism will release, propelling the hammer tip into the window. Generally, it will break the first time, but if not, move the hammer a few inches and try again.
- If you’re using a safety hammer that’s not spring-loaded, it still shouldn’t take an extreme amount of effort. Hold the tool firmly in your dominant hand and swing the hammer tip toward the target area of the window. Since this isn’t something you have practice doing, it’s possible you’ll need to hit the window a couple of times before it breaks.
Here are a few other tips for using emergency window breakers:
- Strike the top of the window instead of the bottom, so the broken glass doesn’t fall on your hands and arms. If you can reach them, the upper right or left corners are best for your impact point.
- Emergency window breakers are meant for use on tempered glass. That means they work on almost all car windows, but not on windshields, which are usually laminated. Most rear windows and sun- or moon-roofs are also tempered glass.
- Test spring-loaded safety hammers periodically on a piece of wood or thick cardboard. You should be able to gauge the spring function and the impact strength based on that test. Be careful not to use it on any part of your body, as it will be painful.
- Emergency window breakers will work on tinted windows, but they will not shatter in the same way as windows without tinting. After breaking a tinted window, it will be held together by the plastic tint, and you will likely have to push it out in one or more large pieces before you can escape.
An emergency window breaker isn’t complex to use, in most cases, and if you’re lucky, you’ll never need one. We recommend doing a bit of research, so you’ll understand how to use your specific model, including reading the included instructions. You can also practice on some scrap materials if that makes you feel more confident about using the tool in an emergency.
The following are six of the best-rated emergency window breakers on the market, all of which can be found online to purchase on Amazon:
Resqme (pronounced “rescue me”) is the best choice for a compact window breaker made to fit on a keychain. You wouldn’t expect so much power in such a small device, but the Resqme features a spring-loaded hammer safety made of stainless steel and a concealed stainless steel seatbelt cutter.
This affordable car escape tool is smaller than most key fobs and weighs less than 0.4 ounces. It’s a popular choice since it’s easy to keep at hand on your keychain, hanging from a rearview mirror, or on a visor.
Note that, due to the plastic components of this item, it may not be the most durable option available. If you carry this item attached to your keys, you may see wear-and-tear more quickly than a car safety hammer that’s stored in a case or glove compartment. The Resqme can be used multiple times, but it’s recommended to check it on a piece of wood or cardboard periodically to make sure the spring mechanism is still functioning.
- Compact size
- Twelve color options
- Attaches to a key ring
Lifehammer bills itself as “the original safety hammer,” and is probably the best-known of this type of product. It has a distinctive orange handle and a dual hammerhead with two steel points and a cutting blade at the bottom of the handle. Since the blade is inside the handle, it protects against accidental injury.
The Lifehammer safety hammer comes with an ABS plastic mounting bracket, which you can secure to your car interior with screws or included mounting pins. Its glow-in-the-dark material makes it easy to locate without a light source.
This emergency window breaker feels solid in hand, while at the same time being lightweight enough for most anyone to use. The Lifehammer is not spring-loaded, so it will take a bit more force to use than some other options.
- Glows in the dark
- Two-way mounting system
- Made in Holland
- Available in orange or yellow
- Double-sided steel hammer
The VicTsing Emergency Window Breaker looks very much like the Lifehammer but costs less than half as much. Its dual hammer has points made of heavy carbon steel. VicTsing hammers are sold in 2- or 4-packs, and they are the most affordable option on our list.
This escape hammer also comes with a plastic holder, which, if you choose, you can mount inside your car somewhere to keep it close at hand. Unlike the Lifehammer, this holder is only designed to be used with screws and doesn’t have a mounting pin option. Most people probably won’t want to drill holes in their car interior, so that’s a consideration if you’re going to use the holder.
Note that this item is not spring-loaded, so it will require the force of your arm to break a window. Reviewers give the blade high marks for cutting through seat belts in testing. It also comes with a reflective strip to help with locating it in dark situations.
- Reflective strip
- Carbon steel hammer
- Mounting bracket included
StatGear’s SuperVizor gets a mention on this list for its small size and unique design. It’s specifically made to be used on a car’s sun visor and comes with a nylon sheath and elastic band to hold it in place. This can give you peace of mind since it’s close by when you need it, but completely secure even in a collision.
The design of the SuperVizor is different from most other safety hammers as well. It features a rubber grip handle with space for your fingers, giving you a firm grip even if your hands are wet. Please note that this product does not have any protective cover over the seatbelt cutter, so you’ll want to keep it away from children.
- Carbide hammer tip
- Visor sheath included
- Available in three colors
The unique feature of the Ztylus Stinger USB Emergency Escape Tool is that it doubles as a dual USB port for charging your devices. You’ll always know that this tool is in easy reach since it plugs right into your car’s lighter. In fact, it’s not evident from its appearance that there’s any additional functionality to the device.
In an emergency, the Stinger can be removed from its place and pushed against a car window with just a bit of force to activate the spring-loaded hammer. The top clip cuts through seat belts easily. Note that the shape of this product may make it difficult to use for charging, depending on the available space in your car’s console.
The cost for the Stinger is on the higher end compared to other emergency window breakers, due to its additional USB port feature. This would be a good product for the person who likes the efficiency of a product with multiple uses and doesn’t mind paying a bit more.
- 2 USB ports
- Available in black or white
The StatGear T3 is the high-end product on this list, but it still comes in at a reasonable price considering all the features it has. In addition to the standard window-breaking hammer and seatbelt cutter, this tool includes a stainless steel serrated blade and an LED flashlight. It’s constructed of metal throughout, so you don’t need to worry about long-term durability.
The window hammer is spring-loaded with a strong carbide tip that needs very little force to activate it. Both the knife blade and the seatbelt cutter are stainless steel. This product comes with a nylon sheath for protection.
This product is naturally going to be heavier than other emergency window breakers on this list, and it may be excessive for people who are only going to use this occasionally. However, for first responders and others who need a high-quality escape tool that’s going to last over time, it’s worth investing a few more dollars on this StatGear T3 Tactical Auto Rescue Tool.
- Knife blade
- LED flashlight
- Quality construction
An emergency window breaker is a specialized tool that does just a couple of functions but does them very well. You can find them with a variety of features, or you can get the basic model that only costs a few dollars. They make an excellent gift for anyone who drives and provides some extra assurance that your loved one will have the means to escape from a car if needed.
Regardless of which emergency window breaker you decide is the best choice for you and your specific situation, you are unlikely to regret making a small investment in this classic safety item. It may be the thing that saves you or allows you to save someone else in the future.