Your House of Glass: How to Keep Your Family Safe
With glass structures everywhere, your home can be a dangerous place. Mirrors, glass-topped tables, windows, showers . . . it’s everywhere. And if glass breaks, the damage may not only be to the glass itself. Because of the sharp, jagged edges, these breaks can result in damages to your home and to your family members or pets.
Did you know that there are certain types of glass that are safer than others? If you don’t already have tempered glass installed in your home, you may want to consider it.
What Is Tempered Glass?
Tempered glass, also known as safety glass, is glass that has been modified through a heating and quick cooling process. In this process, the glass hardens and becomes 5 to 10 times stronger than glass that is not tempered.
Tempered glass is not only stronger and presents a lower risk of breaking, but when it does break, it breaks in pebble-like pieces, not sharp shards. It is designed to shatter completely and not leave large pieces of glass that could cause serious damage to anyone who comes in contact with it.
Tempered glass is usually used in areas where shattered glass presents a high risk of safety issues, such as glass in showers, around pools, or for vehicle windshields. In fact, the International Building Code requires tempered glass to be installed in certain places in new homes.
How to Tell If You Have Tempered Glass
You may be wondering if the glass in your home is tempered glass. Newer homes automatically install tempered glass. If you are living in an older home, here are some ways you can tell what type of glass you have.
- Look for imperfections, warping, or bending. The heating process can cause mild warping. Also, the tongs that were used to remove the glass from the heat can leave small impressions.
- Check the corners. The manufacturer is required to etch the corners of tempered glass to identify it as such.
- Look at it with polarized sunglasses. With polarized sunglasses, you can see the black lines in the glass caused by the heating process. You’ll be able to see the lines even better through an angle.
- If you find that you have normal glass, especially in areas where tempered glass is now required in new homes, you may want to consider upgrading your glass.
What to Do When Glass Breaks
As mentioned, different types of glass break in different ways, and some types of glass will create bigger messes than others. Whether or not you have tempered glass though, glass clean-up is generally the same no matter what type of glass has shattered. In order to protect yourself and your family, follow these basic guidelines:
- Clear the room of children and pets. Check and treat them for injuries.
- Put on closed-toed shoes and rubber gloves.
- If your pet’s water or food bowl is near where the glass broke, empty the containers and wash them out.
- Dust the area with baking soda or baby power to keep small fragments of glass from sticking to the ground.
- Pick up the large shards of glass and put them in a paper bag or a double layered plastic bag.
- Sweep up as much of the broken glass as you can (if on a hard floor). Be aware that you need to throw away the broom afterwards because the shards of glass will get caught in the broom and redistribute on your floor the next time you sweep. If you don’t have a broom you can throw away, skip this step and move on to vacuuming.
- Vacuum the floor. Be sure to cover a wide radius and check under furniture. The glass can travel far.
- Press the cut side of a piece of bread into the floor to pick up the smallest pieces of glass that were left behind.
- Go over the floor with a wet paper towel to pick up the remaining slivers of glass. Also wipe off your shoes and the bottom of the vacuum.
- Move the trash bag with the broken glass to an outdoor trash can.
Bonus Tips to Protect You Family
Besides installing tempered glass in your home and following these steps when glass does break, here are a few bonus tips to protect your family and pets.
- Cover glass with a glass safety film or safety backing. This holds broken glass in place if it shatters, meaning the clean-up is easier and less dangerous.
- Keep animals from jumping on glass tables by giving them alternative surfaces to climb on, like cat furniture and kitty condos.
- Teach your children to handle glass doors with care. Even if tempered glass is handled too roughly or comes off of its runner, it could create small cracks that could result in a shattered door in the future.