Online sales of safety hammers soar
Updated: 2012-07-25 08:10
By Cao Yin and Zheng Jinran (China Daily)
Saturday's heavy rains and flooding have left many Beijing residents worried about how they might escape from a submerged car and prompted online sales of safety hammers.
Such concerns began to arise after a man found himself unable to escape from a car and died after the car became waterlogged under the Guangqumen Bridge in Beijing and died. The vehicle's automatic windows had ceased working under water, leading him to try in vain to break them.
To prevent such deaths, residents, police authorities, automobile companies and media have begun using the Internet to distribute information about techniques drivers can use to get out of such situations.
The Shanghai railway police posted a video on an official micro blog on Sunday showing how a person should break a vehicle window. By Tuesday, the video had been forwarded more than 2,400 times.
"If people are trapped in their cars, they should try to use safety hammers to break the edges of the cars' side windows, not the windshields," Wang Yibo, an officer with the Shanghai railway police, said on Tuesday.
"That glass (in a side window) is thinner and can be broken more easily."
Yang Qingyuan, an expert in escape training in Beijing, said such advice should only be heeded by people trapped in personal vehicles.
"In most personal vehicles, the four corners of windows are easier to smash," Yang said. "But in public transport vehicles, such as trains and subways, the middle and top parts of windows are the easiest parts to break."
"It's very important to take some precautionary measures - such as having a fire extinguisher, a knife, some gloves and a hammer - to ensure your safety," he said.
No rule now requires car dealers to equip the vehicles they sell with safety hammers.
A salesman at Da Shi Hang Auto Co who declined to provide his full name said having the hammers is not extremely important. When customers come in for repair work, he does not recommend that they buy the hammers, he said.
Despite his and others' skepticism, the devices have become big sellers on Taobao, China's largest online marketplace.
Taobao said the number of searches conducted for safety hammers on its website from Saturday to Monday was 1,712 percent larger than the number conducted in the entire month of June.
The number of hammer sales, meanwhile, increased by 598 percent in the same period, and the number of flashlights and lifejackets sold increased nearly 20 times.
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(China Daily 07/25/2012 page5)