Transparency Disclaimer: Resqme did not sponsor, endorse, or have anything to do with my review. I purchased the Resqme tool myself, and all of the opinions and tests are my own. I am currently a tactical driving instructor teaching police and military members specialized driving courses. I very highly recommend the Resqme tool to all of my students. I also personally carry one with me at all times.
The images featured in this article are linked to Amazon via affiliate links. As an Amazon affiliate, I earn based on qualified purchases. Thank you for your support.
Let’s say, hypothetically, you’re driving to work early one morning, like you have done a thousand times before… It’s a little rainy and foggy, but nothing too crazy. You’re sipping coffee and trying to force yourself to feel more awake. As you come around the corner, a deer runs right out into the road and forces you to swerve to avoid hitting it. The good news is you missed the deer; the bad news is you clipped a tree and ran the car off the road, into a flooded ditch. During the crash, the car rolled and is now resting on its left side, taking on water. Your seat belt release is jammed, and you are effectively trapped. What are you going to do?
“The most common passenger vehicle crash scenario was a single-vehicle rollover accounting for 59 percent of the fatalities. These crashes frequently involved running off the road and colliding with a fixed object prior to the rollover and immersion. In cases with known restraint use, the victim was not using any form of restraint system 52 percent of the time.”
You're in a Car Accident Now What...?
More than half of the crashes that involve water were caused by a similar scenario as our hypothetical deer. Another interesting thing is that more than half of the victims were not wearing seat belts.
Looking into the statistics provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are an average of 33,260 vehicle accidents each year that involve partial or total submersion in water. Of those, an average of 339 people drowned (U.S. Data from 2004-2007).
In the event of a car accident, your seat belt (which you should ALWAYS WEAR!) will tighten on impact to help keep you as safe and secure in the seat as possible. The belt tightens with the help of a small, controlled explosion in a pretensioner on one end of the belt. Learn Engineering put together a cool video that explains how seat belts work in a lot more detail.
After an accident and seat belt pretensioner firing, you may find that your seat belt is under too much tension to release the buckle, as you normally would. If you add the weight of your body, hanging from the belt (if you added a rollover to the equation), it can make it nearly impossible to release the belt from the buckle.
Water and drowning isn’t the only thing to consider either. Fires after car accidents are significantly more common than becoming submerged in water. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, there were 212,500 vehicle fires in 2018 alone. If you don’t have a way to cut yourself out of the seat belt, you are effectively trapped in what may become a metal coffin. A dedicated vehicle escape tool suddenly becomes essential.
What Is a Resqme and What Does It Do?
The Resqme car escape tool has two functions. The first function is an extremely sharp Exacto knife blade to cut yourself free from your seat belt, and the second is a pressure-activated glass breaker. The blade is embedded in the body of the tool and effectively shielded to prevent accidental cuts. I’ve cut through several seat belts with the Resqme tool featured in the video, and it has always sliced cleanly and effectively. The blade is awesome at cutting through just about anything that will fit into the tool.
Some people may argue that cutting a seat belt isn’t that hard and that they would just use their pocket knife if they had an emergency situation for it. Although that is certainly possible, there are several things to consider that might change your mind. First, seat belt webbing is specifically designed to be extremely durable and difficult to cut. If your pocket knife isn’t razor-sharp, you’ll find the belt a lot tougher to cut through than you might think.
Another issue with using a knife, rather than a shielded blade like the one that is built into the Resqme tool, is that the risk of cutting yourself while trying to cut through the belt is very high. The last thing you need in an emergency vehicle escape situation is to cut yourself unnecessarily while trying to get out of your seat belt. If you have to slow down and make sure not to cut yourself, it takes up precious seconds you may not have to spare in a severe accident. Further, if you keep your knife in your pocket, you’ll suddenly find it difficult to access while your seat belt is locked. If you keep a knife in a cup holder or loose in the center console, good luck finding it after a rollover.
Resqme tools are designed to stay attached to your keys, so they will always be quickly and easily accessible, even if you’ve been involved in multiple rollovers. There is also an optional sun visor clip, if you prefer not to keep things on your keys, or if you have keyless ignition. I have not tested the sun visor clip to see how secure it is, but based on how the other functions of the Resqme tool work, I’m pretty sure the sun visor clip would be a solid option for mounting.
So You Cut the Seatbelt With a Resqme. Now What?
Going back to our hypothetical rollover into the flooded ditch, let’s say you managed to get out of your seat belt, using the release button as you normally would. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the car is still taking on water and resting on the driver side in the ditch. The passenger door was crushed and bent during the rollover and will not open. Your only option to escape is getting out through one of the windows. What are you going to use to break one and get out before drowning?
If you answered, “I would punch the window out!,” I wish you luck and hope you have been weight-lifting like Arnold. Automotive glass is inherently difficult to break, for obvious reasons. It takes an exceptional amount of impact force to break tempered automotive glass. Over the years, as a tactical driving instructor, I’ve seen all kinds of people try all kinds of ways to break glass; and nine times out of ten, they fail without using specialty tools or an extreme amount of force.
The glass used for cars typically comes in two types, tempered or laminated. Tempered glass is typically used for side and back windows, while laminated glass is used for front windshields. The biggest difference between the two is that tempered glass will shatter into very small pieces and fall out of the frame, while laminated glass will take multiple impacts and remain in place. Lamination just means that there are more than one layer of hardened glass sandwiched together to create one piece.
Tempering glass, just like tempering steel for sword and knife makers, involves heating the glass up to roughly 1200°F and then quenching, or cooling, it quickly. That process makes the glass several times stronger than it was prior to the tempering process. In other words, you’re more likely going to break your hand than break the window, if you try to punch it out. If your car’s side windows are laminated, you’re in even worse shape in the case of this hypothetical rollover.
Vehicle manufacturers started switching to laminated glass for all of the windows around 2010, and it has become more and more common to see laminated glass on most cars newer than 2018. That isn’t a bad thing, because laminated glass stays in place after being broken and helps prevent people from being ejected during rollovers and other accidents. Laminated glass is also quieter than tempered glass for road noise and passenger comfort. Car and Driver wrote an interesting article on laminated glass using AAA data that is worth a read.
What does all that mean for the Resqme tool? Basically, if your car isn’t brand new, it most likely has tempered side glass windows, and the Resqme tool will very easily shatter them to provide an escape route in an emergency. It does that by using a pressure-activated, spring-loaded metal punch. Just press the tip of the tool against the window, ideally in the corners because those are the weakest points, and apply more than twelve pounds of pressure. Once the spring is activated, the metal tip easily shatters the window instantly. It really is impressive to watch, and I never get tired of showing students how easily it works.
Is a Resqme Tool Really Worth It?
If you’re still not convinced that you should pick one up at this point, I’m not sure what else to tell you. It’s just about the cheapest life insurance policy you’ll ever purchase at a whopping $11 per tool or even less if you buy more than one at a time. Honestly, I can’t think of any good reasons NOT to have one in each of the cars you own and on every keyring you have. You can click on any of the images in this article to go straight to the Amazon page for Resqme.
I am not generally one to use fear as a marketing tactic. In all reality, the odds of you ever actually having the real need for a car escape tool like a Resqme are very low. However, the possibility is there, and it’s just like carrying a gun: I’d rather have one and not need it, than need it and not have it. Both my wife and I have Resqme tools on our key chains, and I also carry one at work when I’m doing driving instruction. They are great tools that have worked without fail every time I’ve tested them. The price is right, and the peace of mind knowing you have the ability to escape your vehicle or help someone else out of another vehicle is priceless.