The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 300 to 400 people are killed in submerged vehicles each year in the U.S. In addition to being a disorienting, viscerally panic-inducing scenario, being trapped in a sinking car presents peculiar challenges to escaping. The water pressure can make the vehicle's windows and doors impossible to open, and tempered glass in a submerged car can be equally difficult to break through. Then, on top of it all, what if your seat belt is jammed, also preventing your escape?
While this might seem like a nightmare where everything goes wrong, it just so happens that there exists a safety gadget designed specifically for such an eventuality: resqme, which pulls double duty as both a seat-belt cutter and window breaker. The name (pronounced like "rescue me") might be difficult to read, but the manufacturer promises it's easy to use. The device is small and light enough to fit on your keychain.
Resqme is less than 3 inches long, 1.5 inches wide and weighs just over half an ounce. It has a guarded steel blade, which, once removed from its protective clip, can slice through seat belt webbing. The glass-shattering feature is a spring-loaded spike activated by pressing the tool's black head against the window's corner. The manufacturer says that, because the window-breaking mechanism requires 12 pounds of pressure to activate, it won't go off in your pocket.
The resqme tool retails for between $9.99 and $14.99 at Ace and Do it Best hardware stores as well as elsewhere online. As June is the National Safety Council's National Safety Month we thought we'd recommend other useful safety gadgets to keep in the car for specific purposes. These also might make some decent Father's Day gifts, in case you're starting to get nervous about that:
- A portable all-in-one battery-jump system, tire air compressor and power inverter: This will come in handy in those situations when, all at once, your battery's dead, your tires are running low on air and your mobile devices need charging. You can find these from various manufacturers costing $100 or more.
- A personal alcohol detector or personal Breathalyzer: For people who don't trust themselves not to drink alcohol before driving, but want to make sure they're under the legal limit if they do. These portable devices — some of which can affix to your keychain right next to your resqme — run anywhere from a few dollars to nearly $200.
- A hand-crank flashlight: No need to worry about checking the batteries periodically in your auto-emergency flashlight, which, let's be honest, you won't do anyway. Just toss it in the glove box for reliable illumination when you need it most and are prepared least. These run between about $20 and $35 at your shopping-mall gadget stores.
- An LED emergency triangle: This uses 21 bright LEDs plus reflective material to increase your visibility to oncoming traffic up to two-thirds of a mile away and assembles in seconds. The LED triangle is for when you're broken down or otherwise forced to stop in a less-than-ideal spot on the roadside. It will run you around $30.