For this review I wanted to write about a subject which I think is very important and that is often not taken into consideration by any of us, because of the excess of confidence caused by daily use of cars, which leads us to reduce the level of attention during driving.
We all spend a lot of time in the car, but few have been thinking about how to act in case of road accidents when the safety belts and / or the doors are locked. How many of us have decided to equip the car with an emergency tool?
One such tool is the ExiTool by Columbia River Knife and Tool (CRKT), designed by the knife maker Russ Kommer. This product combines a belt cutter, a tungsten carbide glass breaker and a LED light, all in a single object with black plastic structure (but is also available in a high visibility orange color) that can be easily attached to the safety belt, with a simple folding buckle system.
There are many emergency tools on the market which generally are not specific for cars (such as knife with glass breaker) or have a limited use to a single function (cut the belt or glass breaker), also, for example, those that resemble hammers that fit on the dashboard or in the glove compartment.
One major fact that should be taken into account in case of an emergency when it may happen that one may not have the mobility necessary to achieve exiting the vehicle, we must also consider the state of shock which can take over as a result of an accident. The ExiTool has the great and ingenious advantage of simply sticking to the safety belt, so as to be always at hand, and to incorporate in a compact design all the emergency functions strictly necessary in this context.
In addition to these factors we must take into consideration the legal problem of having in the car a non-specific tool for the emergency; it is a knife with glass breaker, which could create problems in all those countries where the carrying of knives is not allowed, or where certain restrictions apply.
The ExiTool is equipped with a high carbon content stainless steel blade, designed for emergency cutting of safety belts, something very necessary when the buckle is jammed or the release button becomes inaccessible. The accommodation of the blade is so carefully designed and realized that even the smallest fingers cannot reach the blade accidentally.
If you remain trapped in the cockpit with the inability to open the doors, which may be deformed and blocked as a result of an accident, the glass breaker is a fundamental tool. This, in fact, allows the breakage of the side windows, made of tempered glass. It is a glass obtained by a normal glass-sheet heated at high-temperature (about 700 ° C) up to softening of the structure. Extracted from the oven, it is abruptly cooled with jets of cold air at high pressure that induce the stiffening of the outer surface, while the interior is cooled slowly. In this way you get a glass with strong internal tensions, characterized by great resistance to bending and to thermal shock, but high brittleness.
Thanks to this latter characteristic, when a tempered glass breaks, the tensile and compression forces instantly cause cracks in all directions, so that the glass shatters into many small non-sharp splinters, instead of breaking in a few sharp pieces and much more dangerous, as in the case of a normal glass.
In addition to thermal tempering, there is also the chemical tempering, in which the glass is immersed in a bath of molten salts, which induces an ion exchange of the ions present on the slab surface. This treatment gives to the slab a greater mechanical strength, generally with similar properties to those of the heat-treated glass. Its use is mostly tied to the need to involve in the same product, the subtlety and strength. In fact, with this method it is possible to obtain thick tempered glass sheets even less than 2 mm.
Returning to ExiTool, this tool is provided with a tungsten carbide glass breaker, positioned on the opposite side to the opening clip: just grasp it firmly and, for best results - according to the instructions supplied with the instrument - hit the window with the glass breaker in the lower part of the window (in a point situated at approximately 13 mm from the edge and in the middle of the long side) - but we found that it is effective at any point of the window.
At this point, the window breaks into small fragments, allowing the immediate escape from the car in which you were trapped. Similarly, this tool is essential in the case in which you remain trapped in a car that is going to be submerged in water. In this unfortunate circumstance, the major security experts recommend to use the air in the vehicle, as long as the water level does not rise a few centimeters from the roof before opening or breaking the window, to prevent the sudden flow of water which impedes leaving the vehicle. However, the proper way to act can vary as a function of water depth and of the conditions of the passengers.
In any case the ExiTool allow drivers and passengers to break the windows immediately, when necessary.
Rounding out the ExiTool's functions, finally, there is the LED light, useful for different situations of extreme emergency. The LED is powered by a 3V lithium battery (CR2032); it is not useful as a dedicated flashlight, but in an emergency context is convenient to have all these functions combined in a single instrument.
Having personally tried the ExiTool, I believe that every vehicle should be equipped with at least one of these tools. Given the low cost of the product, almost 20$ on web stores, it is worth thinking seriously about buying a tool that is really able to pull yourself out of trouble and, perhaps, to save your life.
Columbia River Knife & Tool (CRKT) - www.crkt.com
Designed by Russ Kommer
Seat belt cutter
0.50" high carbon stainless steel blade
60-61 HRC hardened steel
Tungsten carbide window breaker
Bright LED flashlight
2.75" handle length
Clips onto any standard seat belt
LED light uses 3V CR2032 lithium battery
Weighs 1.6 ounces
This article has been published on the Magazine "Armi&Balistica" n. 52