What You Need To Know About Breaking A Windshield In An Emergency

A car accident can happen at any time. There’s no telling when and where, how it might happen, or if you’re going to be involved in one at all. Still, you shouldn’t push your luck. You need to prepare for every imaginable scenario, so you’ll know what to do – including how to break a windshield during an emergency.

As with any emergency, the first thing you should know is that you need to act fast. A few seconds can make all the difference in situations where you have to break the windshield.


Isn’t a windshield too tough to break?

Yes, windshields are tough. But they aren’t impossible to break. Even though they are more resistant to impact than the average glass, you can bust them open with proper tools and the right amount of force.

There are two ways to break a windshield. You either do it from the inside or the outside, depending on the emergency.


Breaking a Windshield from the Inside

A windshield is broken from the inside when passengers need to escape a vehicle. Opening the doors is usually impossible in these kinds of emergencies.

Examples of situations requiring this action include:

  • Immersion in water, such as getting caught in a flood or falling into a river or lake
  • Collision accidents resulting in jammed or blocked car doors

Here are some tips on how to break a windshield from the inside:

  • Keep an emergency claw hammer by your side. It’s the recommended tool for breaking car glass. Start around the edges and work your way towards the center until there is a significant gap on the windshield.
  • Always have a seatbelt cutter in your vehicle. It allows you to escape more quickly, especially when your seatbelt is stuck.
  • Use any hard metal. In case you don’t have an emergency hammer, hard metal will do.

Bonus tips: If you’re having difficulty breaking the windshield, your next best option is to break the car window. An easy way to do this is to remove the headrest and use one of its pegs to push down against the space where the window retracts.

Jam the peg a few inches deep and pull it towards you. This should flex the window glass and cause it to shatter – usually away from the door. Alternatively, you can break off some ceramic from your sparkplug and use it to punch through your car window.


Breaking a Windshield from the Outside – Tips and Tools

You can break a windshield from the outside when there are passengers inside a vehicle requiring immediate attention. In these scenarios, you’ll find that:

  • The doors are locked from the inside and there is no way to open them
  • Passengers are incapable of opening the vehicle from the inside (i.e. baby, pet, unconscious or injured person)

We still recommend using an emergency claw hammer or hard metals to break windshield from the outside. As a general rule, keep in mind that the auto glass is hardest in the center and weakest around the edges.

Again, if you are left with no other choice, break into the car window instead. You can do it from the outside using an emergency hammer or any sharp metal or object such as rocks. When breaking a car window, focus your impact on a small section and create small holes until the glass collapses.