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Tested automotive rescue tool tonight

Discussion in '80-Series Tech' started by IdahoDoug, Feb 13, 2004.

  1. IdahoDoug

    IdahoDoug

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    For several years, I've carried a Life-Hammer rescue tool in all vehicles we've owned - mounted where any occupant can reach it. A few months ago, Car and Driver was reported to have done a test of them and found they would not work. Curious, I looked up the article, which turned out to be not a test, but merely an editorial about a single rescue tool and an informal evaluation. I think the one they used was a Kmart version. The editor had been unable to break any windows with his, so it got me wondering if they were even worth carrying.

    Today, I was at a body shop to drop a neighbor off to retrieve her repaired Sienna. Spontaneously, I asked the owner if he had any intact glass and he reappeared a moment later and handed me the side glass from a Subaru. This evening, the Miller family did a test of our German Life-Hammer as follows:

    The glass was inserted into a plastic garbage bag that was taped shut. It was then laid down on an energy absorbing mat of the type used in industrial locations where people stand a lot. The outer surface faced upward as though you were breaking into a vehicle. This would simulate a real window supported by weather stripping to a degree. Then, a circle about 3 inches in diameter was cut as a target, and to expose bare glass. Duct tape was then placed across the circle, and a 2 inch circle cut out of it for the same purpose. The intent was simply to tape down the edges of the cutout circle so glass could not blow out of it, and this was an easy method.

    First up was my 5 year old daughter who weighs 32.5lbs (just got her a new car seat, so weighed her last week). I coached her for about 6 practice hits on the rubber mat so she'd get a feel for it. She was only able to get the metal hammer tip to hit first about half the time in practice simply because of unfamiliarity with the hard hammer swings I was encouraging. On her first hit, she took a tiny chip out of the bare glass and I was surprised the window did not shatter. 5 more hits were unproductive as she hit the tape, the plastic, or the hammer again rotated so the metal tip did not hit first.

    Next up was my wife, who weighs 104lbs. No coaching. Her first hit exploded the glass so violently it actually tore a small hole in the bag and a dozen BB sized pieces of safety glass ended up on the floor. She was surprised at how easy it was and so was I. She did not swing very hard, either - more of a chopping motion.

    Clean up was a piece of cake, as I just picked up the limp bag of glass chunks and tossed it into the trash can. Then a dustpan for the few errant bits.

    So, I can't speak for the cheap American knockoffs, but this TUV approved rescue tool seems to work as advertised. I would have been surprised if it did not, as it came with literature listing dozens of awards from Europe and showed it is required in all public safety vehicles such as police and emergency vehicles in some countries. I did not test the seatbelt cutting ability though Car and Driver also had trouble with this aspect of their model. This was simply because the literature warned against using the blade for non emergency use as it might dull it. Practice tools are available. So there you have it.

    DougM
     
    SmoothLC likes this.
  2. RavenTai

    RavenTai

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    I grew up ST. Pete FL where you spend quite a bit of time driving over water,it was fairly regular people wind up in the water after accidents electric windows made me nervous for this reason, if you were unable to open the door you were cought

    witch hammer did you test? got a link?
     
  3. Junk

    Junk

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    IdahoDoug, is your next test going to be in a more real world test situation? :-X

    I'm just a little skeptic based on the fact I think you forgot a decimal point in the 104 lb figure. :D

    Seriously, good info to know since after seeing a negative 60 minutes type show my wife tossed hers out.
     
  4. cruiserdan

    cruiserdan SupportingVendor Emeritus Moderator

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    I have a 500g ball-peen hammer (Toyota, from an early Stout tool kit)....

    Does that count?
     
  5. landtoy80

    landtoy80

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    Does being under water make a difference? With all that pressure on the window would it be harder to brake?
     
  6. RavenTai

    RavenTai

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    I dont know about that, I was mainly reffering to the lack of a manual window crank on cars with power windows I assume when submerged in a very conductive substance like salt water the electrical system and therefore the power windows and sunroof would be worthless, the doors may or may not be openable depending on the wreck and how the truck is sitting on the ecean bottom
     
  7. Jesse

    Jesse

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    snip>the doors may or may not be openable depending on the wreck and how the truck is sitting on the ecean bottom

    I dont think you could open the doors if you are underwater unless there is equall pressure inside the car. Infact I once saw a safty show where they showed you how to get out of a vehicle incase you did go in a river etc. They said dont try to roll down the windows, once they are about half way down they will break and a nice size of glass(with a lot of force) will come at you. They said you should unbuckle and wait for the car to fill up, then use your key to break the class.

    They tested all of this buy actually lowing a car(with test guy in it) and showed that it can be survived. He had emergency oxygen tank next to him but otherwise it was pretty much the real thing.

    I was surprised that the key broke the glass so easy, but the proper way to break the glass was to stick the key in the middle of the class and put as much force on it as possible(did not take much) and it will break.

    Jesse
     
  8. 97 FZJ80

    97 FZJ80

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    I have a variation of the safety hammer - it's in bright orange with a built-in small flashlight and seatbelt cuttering.
     
  9. Gumby

    Gumby Supamod Staff Member s-Moderator

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    Mine has a built in flashlight as well. It's a four cell mag light clipped on the seat riser in front of the driver's seat.
     
  10. Koffer

    Koffer

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    A hard pointed object is all you need . a broken spark plug (ceramic part) works really well.
    A spring loaded center punch is a great one too

    The main thing with tempered glass is blunt objects will bounce off but applying a force in a very small place will break it with no problems.
    It like driving on sand skinny tires = high psi contact and wide tires lower PSI contact point :D
     
  11. Pitbull

    Pitbull

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    I use a S&W 44 Spl., it works better than any hammer. :eek:
     
  12. IdahoDoug

    IdahoDoug

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    Raven,

    It's a Life Hammer. They're imported from Germany and fairly easily obtainable, though the cheap 'merican copies may change that.

    Junk,

    Yeah, I'd heard someone else had a negative report on them - thanks. Hope not to do a real world test actually. We routinely drive and tow around lakes and rivers here. The big concern is that both our kids are in 5 point harnesses and by the time you get these disconnected and a flailing child out of their entanglement, things are happening fast. Add an upside down vehicle and complete darkness and perhaps an injury to me and I want to give myself the edge.

    As for breaking it in water, I suspect a window would break easier if there's air inside and water outside. Simply because the window would not flex outward from the impact as the water would act to prevent this, helping transmit greater force to the glass itself. If there's water inside too, swinging the hammer would be hindered, however. I like the idea of breaking it when water gets halfway up, but around here the lakes are 50-300 feet deep only a few feet from shore so I'm frankly not waiting long to exit.

    The flashlight I keep in the truck and the Glock that's also there are good ideas, except they're not secured like the Life Hammer is. In total darkness after an impact, I know exactly where this tool is - screwed onto the center console's rear surface. In the Subaru, it's screwed into the roof. To me, that's the key in a full on real world scenario - from the driver's seat with your eyes closed, can you put hands on the tool that will cut through a half dozen belts in 10 seconds, then break out a window?

    I hope never to use it, but now feel confident it will operate as advertised.
     
  13. CDN_Cruiser

    CDN_Cruiser

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    Good to know - thanks for the test!
     
  14. Landpimp

    Landpimp

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    mmmmmmmmmm Stout tool kit.......ya bastard ;) hopefully you still have the rest of the kit and the box it comes in :)

    I figure a 40cal round from my Glock would work pretty well :D

    also a spark plug will bust a window in a heartbeat

    [quote author=cruiserdan link=board=2;threadid=11490;start=msg104748#msg104748 date=1076736006]
    I have a 500g ball-peen hammer (Toyota, from an early Stout tool kit)....

    Does that count?
    [/quote]
     
  15. 97 FZJ80

    97 FZJ80

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    Looks like a Glock tactical light would be the perfect choice for this. It even shoots underwater!

    What's a good place to mount the rescue tool in the 80?
     
  16. fsusteve

    fsusteve

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    I carry a center punch in my bunker gear that I have used prolly 20-30 times in the course of my career. Works fine, can buy them anywhere, never failed yet. Safety glass will literally blow inward at occupants and it will cut you, keep that in mind. We get alot of small kids locked in vehicles (Mom locks keys in car) here in the summertime with the engine not running. Heats up quickly, so we don't waste much time using slim jims or entry tools, just bust the window furthest from the kid. Makes a mess but parents don't care, just happy to get the kid out of the 120 degree oven.
     
  17. scottm

    scottm

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    [quote author=Jesse link=board=2;threadid=11490;start=msg104795#msg104795 date=1076742912]They said dont try to roll down the windows, once they are about half way down they will break and a nice size of glass(with a lot of force) will come at you.[/quote]

    The safety glass would burst into small, sharp fragments as it broke. Mixed with the inrushing water, they could do some damage. Opening a window at an unoccupied seat might be safer. My bro from Idaho and I spent a lot of time building and repairing docks and seawalls. I quickly discovered the futility of swinging and striking things underwater. The steady pressure idea sounds feasible, but would take a lot of patience waiting for the car to fill with water, perhaps very cold water. Once the car is full and pressure equalized, a door could easily be opened. One of my other brothers was a paramedic, frequently used a spring-loaded center punch for windows, available at some hardware stores and any machine tool supply store. It's also frequently used for breaking into cars, and the police consider them a burglary tool. Pushing the tip onto a surface compresses the spring, then releases it, propelling a sharp, hardened tip into the surface. It would work fine underwater.

    I think a spring center-punch and sturdy hook-blade knife would be cheap, effective, and take up little space.
     
  18. T Y L E R

    T Y L E R

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    [glow=black,2,2] As Scott said , window punches are the cats meow . As a paramedic I use them at MVC's whenever a door won't open and I need quick access to my patient . They look almost identical to a micro-screwdriver .

    Incidentally , when I was a student I went on a vehicle extrication demo with the Niagara Falls Fire Dept . The chief did something I won't forget ... he challenged his crew to a race . They were to use all they're hydraulics and jaws of life etc , and he would only use the car itself and a simple hacksaw to gain access to the interior !!

    While the FD were priming pumps and firing up the jaws , the chief calmly walked up to the car , snapped off a windshield wiper , and proceeded to smack the upper right corner of the driver window with it in such a way that it performed exactly like a window punch !! SMASHHHH .. then he did the passenger window ... next he grabbed a regular hacksaw , and proceeded to cut right thru the windshield pillars , kicked out the windshield glass and peeled the roof back like a sardine can ... whoa ! We were pretty blown away .. :eek: Amazing what a little lateral thinking and an attempt to return to basics can do ...

    I remember going to a call where a car had back down and over the owner .. who was now dead underneath it in the roadway . You could see all but the chest and head of him , and the urge to slap on the monitor and to start resusitating him was strong , until I realized I couldn't ventilate if I wanted to because the car was weighing on the chest .. the lungs would never inflate ... as surreal as it felt , in an instant I was sprinting back to the rig , to dig out it's jack ! So much for ABC's .. here it was visualize .. then jack car , extricate pt , then begin the usual stuff .... [/glow]


    [glow=black,2,2]T Y L E R -- always remember K.I.S.S.

    [color=0000FF]T[/color][color=0008FF]O[/color][color=0010FF]Y[/color][color=0018FF]O[/color][color=0020FF]T[/color][color=0028FF]A [/color][color=0030FF]F[/color][color=0038FF]Z[/color][color=0040FF]J[/color][color=0048FF]8[/color][color=0050FF]0 [/color][color=0058FF]C[/color][color=0060FF]R[/color][color=0068FF]U[/color][color=0070FF]I[/color][color=0078FF]S[/color][color=0080FF]E[/color][color=0088FF]R[/color][color=0090FF]S [/color][color=0098FF]R[/color][color=00A0FF]O[/color][color=00A8FF]C[/color][color=00B0FF]K [/color][color=00B8FF]![/color][color=00C0FF]![/color][color=00C8FF]![/color][/glow]
     
  19. CDN_Cruiser

    CDN_Cruiser

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    While the handgun approach may be helpful to rescue yourself, I don't think that it does much to help extract others in their car (ie live round bouncing around inside a car, kid trapped in car, etc) - I like the center punch idea.

    Cheers, Hugh
     
  20. Klunky Chris

    Klunky Chris

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    [quote author=raventai link=board=2;threadid=11490;start=msg104787#msg104787 date=1076742382]
    I dont know about that, I was mainly reffering to the lack of a manual window crank on cars with power windows I assume when submerged in a very conductive substance like salt water the electrical system and therefore the power windows and sunroof would be worthless,[/quote]

    Commonly thought......
    The 12v DC system is actually pretty robust underwater.
    I saw a show about surviving common situations. One was a submerged vehicle.
    They dumped a car into the bay with the headlights and flashers on and the stereo going full blast. Ignition key in *on* position.

    The stereo could still be heard in the boat after 20 minutes!

    The headlights were still on also.

    The point they were making is that power windows would have enough juice undewater. (unless of course you turn the ignition key off) ::)

    Pressure issues are the main thing though. Waiting untill the car is mainly full was the advice.
     
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