Best Way to Free Yourself From a Submerged Vehicle?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Apr 01, 2005

Dear Tom and Ray:

I was shocked and disgusted by Tom after reading your Car Talk column in today's newspaper. He suggested that to avoid being trapped underwater in a car, people buy a new "Scubaru." I do not blame Ray for formally disowning him for that awful pun. Humor aside, there is a much better and cheaper way to survive.

As a retired firefighter/paramedic and underwater rescue diver, I would like to suggest a trip to Sears for the purpose of purchasing a spring-loaded center punch, aka power punch. If you are unfortunate enough to find yourself trapped in a vehicle underwater, you need only to hold the point of the punch against the window, and push to load the spring. Presto -- no more window. This method works equally well on the side and rear windows of a car, but not as well on the windshield because it's a different kind of safety glass. The punch can be taped to the inside of a console, or anyplace else where it will be easy to find in an emergency. So, do you think Sears will pay me royalties on power-punch sales from now on?

-- Bob

RAY: Thanks for a good suggestion, Bob. We had mentioned that there are emergency hammers designed for this purpose, and flashlights that have glass-breaking points on the bottom. But a power punch is another great suggestion.

TOM: We don't want to scare people, but if you do live in an area prone to flash floods, it's not a bad idea to keep this sort of tool in the glove box, or even somewhere handier, like in a sun-visor pocket.

RAY: My brother, the genius, keeps his in the trunk.

TOM: And as for the royalties from Sears, Bob, you're going to have to fight it out with Bob Vila. And remember, he packs a circular saw.

RAY: By the way, a reader named Lonny MacDougall also wrote to us about an invention called the Escape Tip. Basically, it integrates a window-breaking device, like a power punch, with the seat-belt buckle.

TOM: So if you do find yourself underwater, when you're ready, you simply remove your seat belt and then use the built-in tool -- which is now in your hand -- to break open the side window.

RAY: The great advantages are that (1) every car could have one, and (2) the driver would always know exactly where to find it in an emergency. More info is available at

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