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Old 16th May 2015, 18:41   #1
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Default Kubotan: The $5 safety device that can break a car window & help you escape a fire

I usually don't put up posts advertising a product. But the recent post of a man burnt to death in his 2 month old Chevy Sail (2-month old Chevrolet Sail Diesel catches fire - Driver burnt alive) set alarms ringing. I'm a huge safety nut and a certified self defense instructor and also an emergency responder at my office. As a member here, I feel it's our responsibility to share.

This post is my attempt to document all of the safety/convenience precautions I take while traveling or just while out and about. It will be in multiple parts. This first part focusing on how to exit a locked car.

Being trapped in a car.

With the rise of control-by-wire tech, it's very easy to get stuck in a vehicle if there is an electric/electronic malfunction. However a few simple points will help you stay alive and/or save lives.
  1. The most important thing is to remain calm. Time is of the essence and it slows down when you calm down. Control your breathing - Think clearer.
  2. Be prepared. I cannot stress this enough. Being prepared is the key to facing any challenge.
Part of my preparation involved having a Kubotan in my car. A Kubotan works as a force multiplier impact weapon. However, in our case, this has a higher purpose. It can break glass. Effectively and easily.

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There are multiple products in the market which can break glass and even using a removed headrest. But I like to keep it simple so that I know it will work during an emergency.

This is important because not all cars have removable headrests. Even if it did, holding a headrest and being able to apply adequate force to break glass is quite difficult.

A kubotan on the other hand is extremely easy to use and effective. It's just a piece of metal after all. Tactical Pens are basically Kubotans with a refill. Which is why I replaced mine with one.

Specifically this $5 tactical pen from ebay. Bringing us to the star of today's show.

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This is a clone of the UZI Tactical Defender. Works just as well at a fraction of the cost. After all, it's just a glorified piece of aluminium in HAIII Black anodized finish with a refill inside. Anyone with a lathe can get really close to making a similar one. Albeit without the bells and whistles.

The pen, when held in an ice-pick position, can be used to strike and shatter glass easily.

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The gripped surface and the clip ensures that your hand doesn't slip while striking. You don't even need to put much effort. If you can lift your arm, you can break glass. This is really important and ensures that even a child can use it in times of emergency. The tip is sharp enough to break glass, but blunt enough that it doesn't snag on clothes or hurt you while normal use.

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Once the glass is broken, it is important to quickly clean the shards from the edges before exiting. Wrap your hands in cloth. Be careful not to cut your hands while doing this. If you do, quickly administer first aid once you're safely outside the vehicle.

I bought three from this seller. Highly Recommended.

Please carry one in your car in an easily accessible location. If not break glass, you can use it to take notes or whatever else a pen may serve. This accepts regular Parker

style refills or a Fisher Space Pen refills with its included adapter. (The refill comes with the adapter. Not the pen.)

Slightly off-topic - If you choose to carry this in your glove compartment, ensure that it is clean and arranged. I cannot even begin to describe some of the dirtiest and messy glove compartments I've seen. Remember, you will have to grab this during an emergency. Make sure its accesible.

The important part of this post ends here. Read ahead if you like EDC.

At any given point, I have the following things in my car:

1. A flashlight with spare batteries.

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I use a custom built Cree XML2-U2 Pill in an Orange Peel Reflector, housed in a Solarforce L2M Host. Runs on Fenix 18650 Batteries. Puts out 860 OTF Lumens on High.

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I have added an optional tailcap with crenellations. This helps the light tailstand and can also be used to break glass if needed.

2. A Swiss Army Knife or Full Size Leatherman.

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These things being so cheap nowadays, it's a crime not to have one in your car. I carry a Victorinox Explorer and a Leatherman Wingman. I also EDC a Victorinox Pioneer Alox. And there is a Leatherman Wave in my backpack if I'm carrying one.Yes, I'm mental like that.

3. A knife.

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Yes, I know the SAK has a knife. But a dedicated knife has it's uses. My favorite pocket carry is the Spyderco UKPK.

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My usual rotation includes this, a Spyderco Paramilitary II, A Sebenza 21 Small, A Buck Mayo, A Smith and Wesson Extreme Ops Tanto and an Opinel No:8

4. First Aid Kit.

No, the one that comes free with your car is not enough. I am willing to bet that most of us haven't even bothered to open it and check what's all in there. And if the perishable items are all within their expiry dates.

Build a decent First-Aid box. There are several online articles that can help. I will write about building a decent First-Aid Box in a later post.

5. Fire Extinguisher.

Get a general purpose one that can handle most types of fires. I have the powder type. See here for tips.

6. A Kubotan or other glass breaking tool. Keep it simple.


Now replaced with the tactical pen.

7. About 100ft of 550 Paracord.

I have found so many used for paracord that it's impossible to list here. If you think it's just rope, think again. Google will do justice.

I even wear about 10ft of it as a bracelet.

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There are many other items you can carry in your car. But these help a lot.

It is also good to get into a planned EDC setup.

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This is my keyring. I carry this all the time. At office, movies, restaurants etc. No issues whatsoever. Some keys are added/removed as per need. All my keys have tiny clips on them to attach to this setup.

The SAK is a Victorinox Classic., the flashlight is a Fenix E05. They hang on a Munroe Mega Dangler.

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The dangler prevents the keys from bunching up and also helps retrieval. This may sound weird, but I know a lot of people like me, who hate having keys bunch up in the pocket and cause a unsightly mound. Plus no rummaging.

In my next post, I will detail other items its good to have in your person while traveling or just going out.

Last edited by Tassem : 16th May 2015 at 18:52.
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Old 16th May 2015, 19:11   #2
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Thumbs up Re: Being Prepared for a Vehicle Emergency Part 1 - The $5 that may save your life one day

Nice thread there Tassem. Have you heard of the lifehammer?




Until a few months back, the original lifehammer was available in India on snapdeal IIRC for just 800-900 bucks; should have bought it then. Nowadays only knockoffs are available.

I carry a Swiss Knife, a torch, some stout rope and have plans to get a good lightweight extinguisher installed. Still scouring the web for original lifehammer though.

Cheers !
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Old 16th May 2015, 19:35   #3
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Default Re: Being Prepared for a Vehicle Emergency Part 1 - The $5 that may save your life one day

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ironhide View Post
Have you heard of the lifehammer?
Yup! And I'm glad you didn't find it! In all probability the one on snapdeal is the one linked below. While it looks great in text, the basic shape/size and weight of the hammer puts you at a disadvantage while trying to break glass. Being lightweight meant that you needed a larger swing or had to hold it differently. This would play havoc on your brain during an emergency. Imagine being pinned in a car. Easier to jab than swing.

My colleague bought this from ebay and right off the bat we knew that the belt cutter would be a dud too. There are multiple reviews of it where people tried it and failed to cut a seat belt easily.

Easy is key. Having a simple and familiar object will put you at an advantage.

Then again having this is better than nothing hehe. And you can still find it on ebay. See this and this.

The original lifehammer is great. But its not simple.

Quote:
I carry a Swiss Knife, a torch, some stout rope and have plans to get a good lightweight extinguisher installed.
Fantastic man! Get some paracord to replace the rope. You will love it! And that knife is more than enough to easily cut through seatbelt.

Last edited by Tassem : 16th May 2015 at 19:39.
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Old 16th May 2015, 20:28   #4
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Default Re: Being Prepared for a Vehicle Emergency Part 1 - The $5 that may save your life one day

Useful thread Taseem, or should I say Indiana?

I think I'm going to pick up those hammer and torch combos for all the cars, just as a precaution. Too many stories of locks getting jammed.

Something like this -
http://www.amazon.com/Safety-Hammer-...rds=car+safety
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Old 16th May 2015, 20:43   #5
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Default Re: Being Prepared for a Vehicle Emergency Part 1 - The $5 that may save your life one day

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Originally Posted by akshay1234 View Post
should I say Indiana?
Lol.. This would've been a lovely compliment, if only they didn't try and cast Robert Pattinson as the next Indiana! I'm already sad monsters these days look like British ramp models, and now this!

Try this instead. Exact clone of the lifehammer. Though I would personally suggest the Tactical Pen and A rugged flashlight.
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Old 16th May 2015, 21:17   #6
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Default Re: Being Prepared for a Vehicle Emergency Part 1 - The $5 that may save your life one day

Have you actually tried to break your car's glass with a kubotan? If a child could break it, the glass must be terribly weak, no?
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Old 16th May 2015, 21:32   #7
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Default Re: Being Prepared for a Vehicle Emergency Part 1 - The $5 that may save your life one day

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Originally Posted by honeybee View Post
Have you actually tried to break your car's glass with a kubotan? If a child could break it, the glass must be terribly weak, no?
I don't understand the logic? The kubotan would put a lot of pressure on a small area, so even toughened glass what is used in automobiles may break. How does that make it terrible weak?
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Old 16th May 2015, 21:34   #8
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Default Re: Being Prepared for a Vehicle Emergency Part 1 - The $5 that may save your life one day

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Have you actually tried to break your car's glass with a kubotan? If a child could break it, the glass must be terribly weak, no?
Yes and No.

Yes I've broken safety glass with a Kubotan. And no the glass is not terribly weak. In fact its just the opposite. The reason you need a kubotan is because the glass is tough. Else you could just break it with your fist. Which incidentally, I've done to a window in college. Yes, some parts of history are better forgotten.

A kubotan exerts all the force in one pin prick point. regular car windows will not survive a hit like that. Simple physics.



I will try and get a window from some garage for free and make a video to illustrate this point. If someone has one lying around and willing to donate, we can make a cool video!

P.S - I hope that wasn't sarcasm. Sarcasm is one reason why most people don't care two hoots about helping out on forums

Last edited by Tassem : 16th May 2015 at 21:39.
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Old 16th May 2015, 21:47   #9
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Default Re: Being Prepared for a Vehicle Emergency Part 1 - The $5 that may save your life one day

Tassem and Akshay, not trying to be skeptical but if my car window can break that easily I would be worried about it.

Tassem, after reading your thread I went through the video of a fireman breaking a window with just a finger and a few taps, and then also went through another mythbuster video which shows the tapping to be a myth. I can also see many videos uaing something called as a centre punch, especially in one of the lower corners, but I am not sure how much force would be required and if it can be applied from the inside.
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Old 16th May 2015, 21:58   #10
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Default Re: Being Prepared for a Vehicle Emergency Part 1 - The $5 that may save your life one day

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tassem View Post

7. About 100ft of 550 Paracord.
I have found so many used for paracord that it's impossible to list here. If you think it's just rope, think again. Google will do justice.
I even wear about 10ft of it as a bracelet.
Thanks for the tip on the kubotan and the paracord. I will try to get it as soon as I can. So far I have been using the rope from the scouts that I got in my 10th std. I have had numerous instances of it being a boon.

My kit includes a swiss army knife, pen knife and flashlight.
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Old 16th May 2015, 22:09   #11
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Default Re: Being Prepared for a Vehicle Emergency Part 1 - The $5 that may save your life one day

Quote:
Originally Posted by honeybee View Post
if my car window can break that easily I would be worried about it.
You needn't worry. It is very difficult to break a car window. Unless you're doing it right. In which case, it's easy.

The basic science behind all of this is Force Multiplication.

Just like pulleys help you lift weights far greater than you could normally, or theoretically by building a long enough lever, you can easily lift a car etc. They all provide mechanical advantage. A wheel and axle for example.

In this case, the smaller the point of impact, the more concentrated the force.

There are situations where you need a larger point of impact for more transfer of energy. Like in certain projectiles. But in our use, the smaller the better.

The best sort of emergency glass breaker would have a tungsten carbide or diamond tip. They will hold a sharp edge over repeated impact.

Thanks for the heads-up on the mythbusters video. While it seems to bust the finger tapping method, it reinforces the Kubotan. The centrepunch seems to be a device which does just that. Exerts all the force in a small area.



Quote:
Originally Posted by blackwasp View Post
My kit includes a swiss army knife, pen knife and flashlight.
Your kit also includes the training you received as a scout! I think that's the best component of any survival kit

Paracord is cheap and easy to find on ebay. It's stupidly expensive in India.

Last edited by Tassem : 16th May 2015 at 22:23.
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Old 16th May 2015, 22:50   #12
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Default Re: Being Prepared for a Vehicle Emergency Part 1 - The $5 that may save your life one day

Tactical pen can break automobile glass. This video proves that.

But personally I would prefer a life hammer. With the pen,I feel glass is coming too close to your hands for comfort. Jabbing at glass can be nerve wracking to many.

Last edited by poloman : 16th May 2015 at 22:56.
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Old 16th May 2015, 23:45   #13
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I carry an ice pick. It's actually from a screwdriver set. Is there a reason to carry a kubotan instead of an ice pick? I'm a noob and curious....
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Old 17th May 2015, 00:34   #14
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Default Re: Being Prepared for a Vehicle Emergency Part 1 - The $5 that may save your life one day

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Originally Posted by drsingh View Post
Is there a reason to carry a kubotan instead of an ice pick?
Simply put, any strong pointy object can be used to shatter glass. Even a screwdriver.

But the big reason to use a kubotan is that its not sharp or slippery. The pick you pictured will work great. But there is a risk of it slipping and hurting someone because it's so sharp.

A kubotan/Tactical Pen will not slip easily because of the way you hold it and it's knurled body. It's just like hitting the glass with the base of your fist. Just that there is a small pointy edge sticking out.

With the ice pick, if you hold the pick, it will slip from your hand and if you hold the handle, it may slip off the glass. Risky if you ask me.

You know those metal screwdrivers with the rotating base used for watches, electronics etc.? The biggest one in the set works great for breaking glass. It's grippier than a long Screwdriver/Pick.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mayankk View Post
Couldn't the headrest pins be used to break the glass?
Yes you can. But:

Quote:
I like to keep it simple so that I know it will work during an emergency.

This is important because not all cars have removable headrests. Even if it did, holding a headrest and being able to apply adequate force to break glass is quite difficult.


Will the universe go into a tizzy because this answer appears before the question? Hehe

Last edited by Tassem : 17th May 2015 at 00:49.
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Old 17th May 2015, 00:38   #15
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Couldn't the headrest pins be used to break the glass? I recall something I saw where the headrest was used as a hammer, and also by wedging the pin in the frame and leveraging.
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