Safety & Security Film Benefits
Protection from Accidental Injury
Like an invisible shield, security films offer protection from broken glass when accidents occur at home and at work. When ordinary annealed glass breaks, it poses considerable danger. The shattered pieces become daggers that can cause serious injury or even death. Engineered with powerful adhesives, security films reduce the hazard of broken glass by keeping the pieces together and safely attached to the film.
Protection from Violent Weather
When Mother Nature loses her temper, devastation and loss is sure to follow. Glass is always one of the first casualties during a hurricane, tornado or earthquake. During violent weather when glass breaks, wind, rain and flying debris are given full access to your home or office, causing property damage and destruction.
Security films are Mother Nature’s match. Able to withstand extraordinary wind and force, security film helps prevent entry of water and wind-borne debris, providing superior protection 24-hours a day. Disasters can strike with little or no warning; security films are always ready.
Protection from Crime
Windows and doors are the most vulnerable parts of your home or place of business. They are points of entry for criminals and smash-and-grab thieves. Glass is an inviting target for vandals intent on mischief or worse.
Alarms and security systems are helpful, but provide little protection from experienced or determined intruders. With security films, intruders cannot readily penetrate the glass, even by striking it with a heavy implement. Usually they become discouraged and quickly depart for some easier target.
Protection from Explosions
Bombs. Industrial explosions. Terrorist attacks. In an instant, an explosion can fire broken glass fragments at lethal speeds. Research conducted after explosions, points to flying and broken glass as one of the main causes of death or injury.
While nothing can completely protect against powerful explosions, security films have proven their effectiveness in these moments of extreme danger.
Facts about use of Safety/Security Window Films
Safety/security window films are designed to help hold glass fragments in place after glass breaks. Solar energy-saving films and decorative films are manufactured to be energy efficient or provide certain design and styling benefits, but any glass breakage protection is only a side benefit and should not be a reason for buying such a product. Although there may be some incidental added safety to any window covered by any type of film, there is no intended safety/security benefit unless the product is tested and listed as such by its manufacturer. Consumers should ask to see film manufacturers’ literature which states the specific benefits of each particular product.
Safety/security window films applied to glass are tested to the same break safe standards required of tempered glass, heat-strengthened glass, and laminated glass. Window film manufacturers have copies of the actual laboratory test reports validating that their products do, in fact, meet specific impact testing.
Upon repeated impacts to the same area, films can begin to tear due to the edges of the broken glass fragments penetrating the thickness of the film. This means that, in general, although films can help greatly by reducing glass hazards upon initial impact, with repeated impacts they may not continue to perform as well. Thicker films and films made from multiple layers (laminated films) perform better, in general, in situations where there will be repeated impacts to the glass, even after breakage has occurred. Just because a product may be able to pass the Dade County small missile impact requirements, it does not mean the product can get Dade County Product Approval, as it may not be able to withstand the repeated impact cycling part of the approval process. As of the summer of 2005, the window film industry trade associations are not aware of any window film product which can meet the large missile impact test. Any claim by the seller of a product should alert the consumer to ask for a copy of the actual written approval for the specific product in question.
Safety/security films are used extensively by government agencies and large corporations for increased protection from the hazards of flying glass fragments during bomb blasts or other types of weaponry attacks. There are published standards of performance at different levels of protection established by the General Services Administration, and most film manufacturers have many products tested and approved for these uses.
Films can be installed (1) on only the daylight area of the glass, or (2), if the frame is removed and replaced, on the entire glass surface (called an edge-to-edge installation), or (3) can be part of a film attachment system. Films installed on the daylight portion only hold the glass together and in the frame so long as some of the glass edge remains unbroken along the line where the daylight part of the glass meets the frame. Once there is total edge break of the glass itself, then the film and broken glass held by it vacate the frame. Films installed edge-to-edge hold glass in the frame better since a part of the film is installed on the glass under the frame, thereby holding the broken glass in place even with total daylight area glass breakage. Films installed as a part of an attached film system are “anchored” to the window frame itself, using either a structural silicone adhesive or a mechanical device (or both). Here the film becomes a flexible membrane holding the glass fragments together.
Where to Get More Facts About Safety & Security Window Films:
Protective Glazing Council, www.protectiveglazing.org
Safety/Security Film Vs. Storm Shutters
There is really no need for an ongoing debate about the use of safety/security window films versus the use of storm shutters.
Storms shutters are made to protect windows, which are part of the structure of a building. Properly manufactured storm shutters, from reputable manufacturers, which have been properly installed on a building using the right types of materials and mounting accessories offer a high degree of protection against glass breakage under almost all circumstances when visibility through the window is not required or desired. In fact, many shutters made and utilized as outlined above actually meet the highest windborne debris impact resistance as is specified in the “Dade County Standard”. Improperly manufactured or installed shutters may actually become large projectiles during a major window event, such as a hurricane.
Three things must be noted here, however. First, the “Dade County Standard” is part of a structural building code. It applies to new construction primarily and to retrofit construction only under certain circumstances, such as a major remodeling of a building. It is not a personal safety standard and was never initiated as such, as many homeowners might mistakenly believe, especially due to the wording of certain advertisements. The purpose of the code is to prevent the occurrence of certain size openings in the windows and doors of a building to prevent the pressure differentials from blowing the roof off the house, which would then allow the walls to collapse. In other words, the purpose of this code is to prevent the collapse of the building in a catastrophic hurricane event, and not specifically to protect the occupants of the building, who would already have been notified to vacate the area. Secondly, shutter systems are an “active” system. They work only when someone takes steps to put them into use. The operator of the shutter system must not only be present but must also accurately determine the amount of advance timing needed to activate the protection. Third, it is more likely that there will be occupants in a house during glass breakage events that are less catastrophic than a major hurricane event. Many more homes and buildings are located in non-direct path areas; many more storms with winds less than are found in a catastrophic hurricane occur in all areas of Florida than just in direct coastal south Florida; and there are many other causes and instances of glass breakage which can occur that are not windstorm related.
Safety/security films, on the other hand, work when glass is broken by holding shards and fragments together, rather than allowing them to become projectiles striking persons and objects inside a building. One direct benefit is to reduce the probability and/or severity of injury to persons who might otherwise have been injured or killed as a result of flying glass fragments. Another possible benefit is to reduce the probability or severity of injury from human impact, that is, when a person inside the house accidentally breaks a window by direct contact such as would occur from a fall into a glass panel. In a spontaneous wind burst, as might occur during a severe thunderstorm when wind speeds could be in the 40-90 mph range, much glass breakage from flying debris can still occur. In these listed incidents, properly manufactured and installed safety/security window films offer as much or better potential protection than shutters since: (1) the film is a passive system and needs no anticipation of these events for an operator to activate it, such as would be needed with a shutter system; (2) visibility of the situation outside is maintained; and (3) potential property damage due to continuing rain and windborne debris continues to be lessened
To put it very simply, shutter systems that meet the Dade County Standard are intended to help prevent structural collapse so a building could be re-occupied more quickly after a major wind event. The use of safety/security films improves life safety issues and reduces the potential for property damage in less than catastrophic glass breakage events. In an existing home, the consumer need only to decide what they are trying to protect. Both technologies might be needed if both structural integrity of the building and life safety are desired in all circumstances.