How to Break a Car Window From the Inside in an Emergency

Getting trapped inside your car is a pretty scary situation and one that would make anyone start panicking. With your doors and windows completely shut, how are you supposed to get out?

But don’t worry, my 5 easy ways to break a car window from the inside guarantee that you’ll be out in no time.

How to break car windows from the inside in case of emergency.

5 Easy Ways to Break a Car Window From the Inside

1. Smash It With the Headrest

One of the easiest ways to smash through a car window from the inside is with a headrest. Unlike some of the other techniques I’m going to mention later on, this method doesn’t require you to have any tools handy.

There are two ways to break your car window with your headrest, and both require a bit of strength.

But first, you obviously want to pull out the headrest from the seat. Most headrests have quick-release mechanisms that allow taking them out without much force. Push the headrest up as high as it will go. You should also look for two holes or buttons on the sides of the base.

Then, using your fingers, push the buttons that are on the base. If there are no buttons, only holes, slide your key or pin inside them, one by one.

Using the Headrest

Now that you’ve pulled the headrest out, it’s time to try and break the window. But be extremely careful when doing this. In fact, if you have any protective gear in your car, now’s the time to put it on.

Take the metal side of the headrest and start hitting the window at the corners, avoiding the middle section. Almost all side windows have a reinforced center to protect you in case of collision. Since they’re made to be unbreakable, it’s best to aim for the corners.

It will take a minute or so to break the window, depending on how precise and powerful your hits are. Again, remember to protect your face while doing this to prevent glass shards from going into your eyes or mouth.

Using the Headrest as a Lever

If for whatever reason you can’t or don’t want to smash the window, your next best option is to use the headrest as a lever. Again, you’ll want to use the pegs of your headrest to try and break the window in a more controlled, and thus safer way.

Try to jam one of the pegs into the spot where your window retracts, right where its seal is. Then, you’ll want to push it down a few inches and start pulling the headrest toward you. By doing so, you are flexing the window laterally and weakening it.

After a couple of seconds or minutes, the car window will shatter, usually on the opposite end from where you’ve put the pegs in. There will be glass shards again, but much less than if you were smashing the headrest in.

2. Look for Porcelain, Metal, or Stone Objects

Some car seats have integrated headrests, making the first method, unfortunately, useless. So if that’s not an option, it’s time to start looking around your car to find a porcelain, metal, or stone object.

Tempered glass, the biggest component of any side window, has high internet tensile and compressive stress. Even though it’s durable, it shatters easily when you try to break it using a sharp piece of porcelain, metal, or stone at a medium speed.

I know that most of you don’t really have porcelain objects in your car, but try to look for:

  • Spark plugs
  • Ball heads
  • Cutting tools
  • Seal rings

Anything that’s made from aluminum oxide ceramic can provide enough strength to set you free from your locked car.

You should also look for hammers, wrenches, or metal screwdrivers to help you shatter the window. And if, by whatever chance, you have stone figurines or tiles laying around in your car, try smashing them into the corners of your car windows.

3. Use a Seat Belt Hook

One metal object that you’re sure to have in your car is a seat belt hook. Since it’s not as big as the peg of a headrest, it’ll take you a bit more time and finessing to set yourself free.

First, start by putting the hook where your window retracts and start pulling it toward you. The seat belt hook might not get your car window to shatter, but it will definitely weaken it, making it easier to break.

When you feel that the glass isn’t budging anymore, take your hook and start smashing the corners of the window. Ideally, you’d want to cut the seat belt hook for this, because, otherwise, you’ll have a shorter range of motion.

It might take a couple of minutes to break the glass entirely and you might have to combine two techniques. However, the hook method is still extremely effective and your best option if you don’t have a detachable headrest.

4. Have an Emergency Kit Prepared

While all of these techniques are pretty effective, nothing beats having an emergency escape kit. Not only can you break windows with them, but you can also cut your seatbelt, and attract attention.

There are a couple of different kinds of kits you can get, and they vary in size and the number of features they have. The two most popular emergency kits, and the ones I use, are from VicTsing and Lifehammer.

Both are multifunctional, sturdy, and can be real lifesavers in emergency situations. The VicTsing and the Lifehammer can break glass, cut seat belts, and have reflective properties.

But if you’re looking for something smaller, I suggest the portable kit from VicTsing. The tool comes on a keychain and you can even use it to break windows underwater.

The last tool I wanted to mention is another multi-function one, with an extra feature. In addition to breaking glass and cutting seat belts, the General Tools kit has two built-in flashlights. With the press of a button, you can either choose a red or white light. Just keep in mind that you’ll need three AAA batteries to power this thing.

5. Break It With Your Elbow or Legs

I don’t suggest using your elbow or legs unless you’ve exhausted all other alternatives since it can be extremely dangerous. If you have an acoustic windshield, it’ll probably be easier to break it, since it’s thinner than other types.

You probably won’t be able to completely shatter the glass, but you might be able to kick the windshield out of its frame. Since it’s glued to your car with strong adhesives, if you apply enough force, you can release it.

But again, try aiming for the corners of the windshield, and not the center, because that’s reinforced. Also, you should adjust your seat to optimize your position and hopefully deliver a stronger kick.

Keep in mind that this strategy might not work every time and even if it does, it’ll take you a lot of time and effort to pull off. So do it only if your side windows are completely blocked and you see no other way out of the situation.

Breaking a Car Window Underwater

One of the scariest car accident scenarios is the one where you end up in the water. If that happens, there’s not a lot you can do, except try and break the windows.

To get out of a submerged car with locked windows, you’ll have to use one of the emergency tools I’ve mentioned earlier. They’re the best equipment for the job and the only thing that’ll ensure a safe escape.

You might be able to break your windows using the headrest method. But keep in mind that the glass shards combined with massive amounts of water make this approach extremely dangerous.

Don’t try breaking your windshield with your feet if your car is underwater because it won’t work and you can get seriously injured.

You might also want to read: Can You Open a Car Door Underwater?

How to Get Out of a Locked Car

If you’re stuck inside a locked car, breaking the windows should be your last resort. So before you do serious damage to your car and potentially hurt yourself, first try calling a locksmith. Most locksmiths are pretty experienced when it comes to car doors and they offer emergency services.

If you don’t have data on your phone or can’t find a locksmith near you but your phone is still working, call for help. Try to get someone who has tools, such as a hammer, or someone who can track down a locksmith for you.

Final Thoughts

I know that getting locked inside of your car is a terrifying experience, especially if you’re claustrophobic. But the worst thing you could is panic and start spiraling.

Instead, look for tools around your car or consider taking out your headrest or cutting your seat belt. If there’s no other way around it, consider breaking your windshield with your legs, unless you’re underwater.

It goes without saying, but as soon as you get out of your car, one of your top priorities should be covering the broken window and getting an emergency tool. The ones I recommended are pretty cheap, durable, compact, and great to have around in almost any situation.




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