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Security Basics

How to Break a Window | 2022

Posted July 23, 2020 by Cove

Infographic: How to Break a Window

When you think of breaking glass and entering a house or a car, you would immediately think of this as a criminal act. In truth, there are many reasons a window would need to be broken in case of emergencies. You never want a neighbor or a stranger to think you are a criminal, of course, but there are tools you can use to discreetly break glass to save yourself or even the ones you love. Here are a few ways to break a window, and the ways you can repair it afterwards.

Emergency Situations

So what emergency situations could possibly happen that would require you to break glass? Breaking glass is naturally very dangerous, as the shards of glass and the entering or exiting through the window frame can cut and slice through skin with ease. This is why it is vitally important to perform these actions with care. Glass is rarely ever just glass alone. On cars, the glass installed is tempered glass. A tempered glass window is manufactured to prevent break-ins because of its strength and the method of its creations. The auto glass undergoes a process known as annealing, a procedure that heats glass well over its melting temperature and then applying great force to form the window. This gives the glass certain properties. These advantages include:

  • Strength. Through the annealing process of hardening tempered glass, the force required to break the window is much more than breaking a normal pane. Depending on the manufacturer, the force required to break tempered glass ranges from 20,000 to 24,000 PSI (or pounds per square inch). This sounds like a lot, and it certainly is: there’s a reason tempered safety glass is used on modern car windows.

  • Unique shattering. Annealing forces the glass into a very hardened but surprisingly fragile state. You may be asking why this is an advantage. When broken, instead of completely shattering and creating very jagged edges, tempered glass breaks into smaller and more rounded edges that create cracks instead of complete disintegration should the glass break. This makes tempered glass safer to break through in emergencies.

  • Thermal resistance. You may feel this if you are sitting inside your car on a hot day: when the windows are closed, heat is not easily transferred through the glass. This is both an advantage and a disadvantage. Heat is kept out of the car or home, but it also keeps it in. This is great for cold days with the heater on, but slightly dangerous in hot temperatures if the windows are sealed.

The Sun setting with clouds surrounding it

A Hot Summer Day and Heat Danger

Imagine leaving a child inside a car on days where the temperature climbs into the 90s or 100° F. This, sadly, is a situation that happens with fatal consequences about 39 times every year since 1996, according to Consumer Reports. The tragic consequences of this can be found in the story of Tegan and Ryan Dennis. Their father, Dustin, went for a trip to a gas station with his kids at noon, unaware that his kids had gotten into the truck on their own. He returned home and exited the car, leaving his children on the floorbed of the vehicle. He slept for about four or five hours and realized he couldn’t find his kids afterwards. Discovering them inside of his truck, he brought them inside only to realize they had perished from vehicular heat stroke. You may think to yourself that you would never forget your children inside of a hot car. But for the Dennis family, this happened by complete accident.

It may seem presumptuous to watch for other people’s children inside of their cars, but you never know when it might actually be a lethal situation. This is especially true for infants in car seats left alone. On hot days, keeping an eye out can save a young life.

Burglar with hoody in middle of the day sneaking out of a house with his hood up.

Danger at Home

Criminals can break-in to enter your home and that is why you need a window sensor. But what if you need to escape it? There are two primary reasons you would want to do this: the threat of physical violence and fire. It is important to note that modern home windows are double-glazed. This means that the glass is surrounded on both sides by a transparent that keeps the window from complete disintegration. It also means that added force is required to penetrate the plastic of the window in order to get through.

If you are in immediate danger from someone that would harm you, there are ways that we will talk about later in this article about methods of breaking through a broken window in a safe and quiet way. And breaking through a window in a dangerous home fire is certainly a reason you will want to escape your home, especially if you discover that your window pane cannot slide open or open at all. Law enforcement and firefighters know how to break through windows to save victims, but it is important to know for yourself how to get through. Take care when escaping a fire through a window: the added oxygen from the outside can make the fire flare even hotter. Make sure a door is closed from the fire before you escape through the window frame.

When creating a safety plan for your home or apartment, it is important that you know of two ways to enter every room in order to escape danger. Then, after escape, it is important to have a meeting location so you know that every member of your family is safe.

Broken Window. Outside can be seen a line of apartments, some trees, and the blue sky with a few clouds in it.

How to Break a Window

Getting through glass in a safe manner is very important, any getting through glass quietly and quickly can be even more important in a life-or-death situation. Here are a few tools you can use to get through tempered or double-glazed windows and how to use them.

  • For just fifteen dollars, this escape tool is a wonder for getting out of a car in an emergency: the safety hammer. This ingenious emergency hammer is designed with a hardened steel tip that actually shatters tempered glass with a hard enough strike. This can be used on the side window as well as the back or front windshield. Better yet, it comes with a seat belt cutter to extract yourself if you cannot normally undo your buckle.

  • Interestingly, do you know of another “tool” you can use to shatter the window? Your headrest! The metal prongs that secure your headrest to the car seat are great at getting through tempered glass with enough force.

  • A hammer and a thick blanket. It may seem too simple, but muffling the sound of breaking through a window can be as important as escaping through the window itself. Simply hammer the glass through the padded surface, and it will not only give you the silence you need, but it will also protect you from sharp glass that would fly with a regular hammer strike.

Window made up of small square glass panes. A teapot in front of it and in the middle. Two potted flower plants on each side.
  • Duct tape. While breaking through a window, you do not want the glass of the window to injure you or your dog or child inside the car. By covering the glass with duct tape, you will ensure that the broken glass sticks to the tape instead of shattering all over the interior and exterior of your car.

  • A spark plug. Yes, a spark plug! If you have a child trapped in your car or truck, having a spark plug on hand is perfect. The ceramic of the spark plug when hit with a hammer or other blunt object can pierce and even shatter tempered glass.

  • An automatic steel punch. These tools can be picked up at any hardware store. Meant to punch holes in metal, these spring-loaded strikers can break through glass easily, especially when striking car glass at an angle along the bottom or side edge.

broken window glass

Repairing a Window

You have successfully saved yourself and your family from danger by breaking through your car or home windows. Now how much will it cost to get the window replaced? You may be familiar with windshield repair, especially if you have ever been struck by a flying rock while driving on the freeway. But do you know how much it costs to repair a side window, or a double-glazed home window? Here is some information about how to go through the process.

Car Windows

Rear and front windshields are fairly straightforward, even if you have to purchase your windshield through your car’s manufacturer because of special wiring or features like window heating. Most auto repair shops can order and install these windows, especially if they are known for glass repair.

The difficult replacement are the side windows. The first consideration is whether they are manual or power windows. Manual windows, such as those with a side crank, do not cost much and can save you quite a bit on labor costs. Power windows, on the other hand, are much more complicated depending on the features of your vehicle. Mechanics have to take power locks in the door, additional wiring, relays, and the window regulator into account. The labor costs will be your primary cost, as the narrow installation space present in most modern cars means additional time in the replacement.

A man holding the steering wheel.

Home Windows

If you have ever had windows installed into your home, you may be familiar with time and pricing. If not, there are several aspects of the replacement to consider, especially when it comes to estimating the final cost with the contractor you hire. The first is air leaking and temperature control. Modern energy-efficient windows are designed to keep heat and cold from entering homes, meaning you will pay less on heating and cooling bills. If the window is completely shattered, more than just the window will have to be repaired. This includes any frame or sealing damage, which may have to be replaced along with the glass.

Fortunately, if you have a warranty on the glass or homeowners insurance, your glass windows may actually be free to repair. This is especially true if broken because of fire, as almost all insurance covers fire damage. Most insurance also covers vandalism and theft, and you would be hard-pressed to find an insurance that wouldn’t cover escaping through a window to escape physical harm from an assailant. If you have any doubts about what your insurance will cover, always give them a call or ask while signing up.

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