How to Safely Break Glass: A 4 Step Process


Breaking glass isn’t as easy as it seems. If you don’t do it right, you could end up with a cut or more severe injuries. In this article, I’ll outline the basics of breaking a piece of glass in a safe manner.

Photo by Prateek Katyal from Pexels

To safely break glass, it is important to wrap it up with duct tape, place it on the ground or flat surface. It is preferable to use a hammer and it is imperative to wear a sturdy pair of leather work gloves, safety glasses as well as work boots to prevent any injury.

These are the basic tips you need to remember when breaking glass. Let’s explore further why you need to follow these steps.

1- Wrap up the glass with duct tape

The reason you should use duct tape to wrap up the glass you want to break is that this step will make it easy to clean up. When you wrap the glass with duct tape, the broken shards will stick to the tape instead of scattering everywhere. This can be a convenient way to break glass.

2- Place the glass on the ground or a flat surface

You also need to place the glass on a flat surface before you break it. This will make the broken glass much easier to manage and control. When breaking a glass in this way, you should place the side wrapped with duct tape upwards.

This is the ideal scenario from breaking a glass but you could also need to break a glass that is not easily detachable or one that is at a fixed angle. In that case, you can still make use of duct tape to control the shards, but you will need to place some sort or sheet below the area where the glass will break. This will minimize the chances of a stray shard being left behind.

3- Use a Hammer

A hammer is a good tool of choice when breaking glass as it is simple to use and provides enough force to break most glass types. However, if you don’t have access to a hammer, you can also use another heavy tool, of even a household object like a large rock or a brick.

4- Wear leather gloves, safety glasses and work boots

When working with glass you need to wear at least the basic safety equipment such as a sturdy pair of leather work gloves and safety glasses, as well as work boots. It’s better if you can cover all parts of your body that could be cut by glass, especially sensitive areas such as your neck.

You will find everything you need to safely break glass here

Now that I’ve covered the basic safety tips on how to break glass, let’s take a look at why you would want to do so in the first place!

Why Do You Need to Break Glass Safely?

Well, the first reason to know how to break glass safely is so that you don’t end up injuring yourself or other if you ever need to. But you might be surprised at how many situations you can find yourself in where this acquired skill will come in handy.

For example, you might need to smash a glass window to escape in an emergency. A lot of times people will leave their kids or pets unattended in their cars with the windows up.

Of course it’s a bad idea to leave your windows down due to security reasons, but in the summer heat the temperature can reach dangerous levels inside a car with the windows closed all the way.

If you happen to come across a child or animal that is trapped inside of a hot car, your only option could be to smash the window in order to save their life. Knowing the proper technique of breaking glass safely can minimize damages both for you and the others involved.

Another emergency case where you would need to break glass safely is in a fire. If you are in a building that is on fire, you might not be able to escape via the fire exit or any of the other escape routes.

In such a situation, smashing a glass window could be your only option. In order to prevent further injury to yourself, you need to remain calm and ensure you follow the correct steps before breaking the glass.

In the event of submersion, break the automobile window with an emergency escape hammer. A poll conducted by the National Consumer Affairs Center of Japan found the following results:

70%Of consumers polled by the National Consumer Affairs Center of Japan have no idea what kind of glass their car doors are made of.
40%Think that some varieties of glass are unbreakable with an emergency escape hammer.
188Respondents have used an emergency escape hammer among those who are familiar with them
89 people out of 188For some reason couldn’t break glass with an emergency escape hammer.

Lastly, you might also need to break a window or piece of glass around the house because it might be irreparably damaged and needs to be replaced. In this case, you can follow the correct procedures to ensure you break and dispose of the glass in a safe manner.

Broken glass is particularly harmful since the fragments of glass are likely to be present in the window frame and using the window is going to cause cuts and slash through clothing. That’s why it is critical to carry out these tasks with caution.

According to a survey carried out in Philadelphia among children of 18 years and below, at least once when wandering outside, 83 (34 percent) of the 241 children had been cut. At the time of the accident, 62 of the 83 were not wearing shoes. Broken glass was the most common cause of lacerations (86 percent). The laceration was treated professionally for 39 of the 83 youngsters. The amount of broken glass in the outside walking area was assessed to be 30%.

Glass is a common cause of wounds among emergency room patients. Glass was found to be the cause of 5% of all injuries at Armstrong and Molyneux’s hospital in Liverpool, England, and the majority of these injuries happened on the street.

But you also need to watch out for different types of glass that break in different ways. Let’s take a look at a common type of glass used in cars.

How to Break Tempered Glass?

Tempered glass is a type of glass that breaks in a different way than regular glass.

The best way to break tempered glass is to use a safety hammer with a sharpened steel tip at the back. You can also use a steel punch as an alternative tool.

I recommend using the Lifehammer Brand Safety Hammer that can be used for regular glass breaking needs but also in emergency case in a car for example, as we will see below.  

Tempered glass is used in automobiles. Because of its power and construction technique, tempered glass windows are designed to deter break-ins.

The glass used in car windows goes through an annealing process, which is a process that heats the glass well above its melting point before adding significant force to shape the panel. Tempered glass is different from other types of glass due to this process and it has some unique properties which makes it ideal for use in cars.

Before you break tempered glass, here’s what you need to know. Because of the annealing method used to toughen tempered glass, the power needed to crack tempered glass is far greater than that used to break a regular window. The force used to crack tempered glass differs based on the producer but you can expect a resistance level of over 20,000 pounds per square inch. This means that the tempered glass used in cars are not designed to break easily by any means!

Tempered glass has a distinctive way of shattering that is different from other types of glass. Annealing allows the glass to become incredibly hardened yet unexpectedly delicate.  Heat-strengthening entails subjecting pre-cut glass panels to temperatures of up to 650 degrees Celsius, but with a slower cooling process than tempering. Because the compression strength of heat-strengthened glass is lower than that of tempered glass—about 24,130 to 51,710 kPa (3500 to 7500 psi) vs 68,950 kPa (10,000 psi) or greater—it is not as robust as tempered glass.

Tempered glass, when shattered, rather than fully breaking and forming rather sharp pieces, fractures into smaller and smoother edges that leave chips on the surface of the glass. This means that if you need to break tempered glass in an emergency, you can do so without it going in a million directions!

Tempered glass also has a resistance to heat. You will notice this while you are seated inside your car on a hot day. Heat is not easily transmitted through the glass when the windows are shut.

This is both a benefit and a drawback. This means that in a car or house with tempered glass windows, the heat inside the car or house can become unbearable in the summer months.

What if You Don’t Want to Break Glass?

Breaking glass during an emergency situation is one thing, but if you’re breaking a glass to dispose of it, or looking to replace a window, there are alternatives to breaking it yourself.

Instead of breaking the glass, you can cut it up into small disposable pieces using a glass cutter. This method is safer than the breaking glass method because you don’t have to deal with small shards or jagged pieces. You can cut up the glass in straight pieces, which also makes the cleanup easier.

You can also hire a professional to do the job for you. Breaking glass isn’t something you should take lightly, as even the tiniest piece of glass can cause a lot of damage if you step on it unknowingly.

Final Thoughts

Breaking glass can be a good way to dispose of and clean up your unwanted glass around the house, but you need to follow the safety tips mentioned in this article if you want to avoid injuries. Good luck with your next DIY project!

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