Window-smashing tool a lifesaver, says mom whose SUV went into slough

A Saskatchewan mom whose family survived a potentially deadly mishap in a pond is urging people to get a window-punch device for their cars.

Natalie Millar says she wants all her friends to get one of the car-escape gadgets

Window-smashing tool a lifesaver, says mom

7 years ago
Natalie Millar, whose SUV went into slough, says she wants all her friends to get one of the car-escape gadgets 2:01

A Saskatchewan mom whose family survived a potentially deadly mishap in a pond is urging people to get a window-punch device for their cars.

"It's an escape tool that every family should have," said Natalie Millar, who was driving home to Regina from Anglin Lake last Friday when the accident happened.

Millar was behind the wheel of the family's sport utility vehicle, her husband was asleep, and her two-year-old son was in the back seat.

Natalie Millar and her family were heading south on Highway 2 near Imperial, Sask., on Aug. 8 when the SUV went off the road into a pond. (Sally Ferrara)

When she turned momentarily to give the child a snack, the car went off the highway and into the pond.

Being trapped in a vehicle underwater had always been one of Millar's great fears, so much so that she had previously gone online to research the best way to handle such a situation. 

Among the things she found online was a YouTube video from CBC's Rick Mercer Report demonstrating how to get out of a sinking vehicle.

So when the SUV started to sink, she quickly realized they would have to escape — and fortunately, she and her husband were prepared.

The electric window switches had shorted out so the windows and sunroof wouldn't open. The water pressure made it impossible to open the doors. But she had her window-punch gadget attached to her keys. 

The item, which goes by the trade name ResQMe, is pushed against the window and when a button is pushed, it shatters the glass. There's also a blade on the device that lets people cut through their seatbelts if they have to.

"It worked great," she said. "The glass completely shattered."

Her husband knocked out his own window and then they went to free their son. They covered him with a blanket before punching out the glass in the backseat.

"Boy, he was a champ," she said of her toddler. "I said, 'It's OK bud. The car's just going for a swim. Now we're going for a swim.'"

A couple of Good Samaritans who witnessed the accident jumped into the water to help them get out of the water.

In the end, no one was injured. But within minutes, the SUV was almost completely submerged.

Millar is now a strong believer in the window-punch tool, which is about the size of a cigarette lighter and can be put on a keychain.
"One of the first things we did when we got home, was I wanted to buy one for all of my friends and family. So we called around the, city, and you'd be surprised, nobody even knew what we were talking about."
Millar did eventually find one of the escape tools at a local Home Hardware store on Rochdale Boulevard.
They are also available online for $10 to $15.

Other tools, such as a hammer, would also do the job of knocking out a window, she said.

What's most important is for drivers to think about what they'd do in the event of a crash into water — and to have an escape plan.

"Knowing what to do, and especially right now in Saskatchewan with all the rain that we've been having, there's so much water in the ditch — it's just nothing for a tire to blow and someone end up in the water," Millar said.


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