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Window Film: Could This Home-Defense Method Help You?

Want to avoid extraneous issues while you are away on vacation? Actually worried about a major event happening in your area that might incite a mob? Are home invasions increasing in your area? This technique may help reduce the risk associated with these concerns significantly. Window films are an excellent deterrent to even a driven and experienced robber or intruder, especially when used in conjunction with other methods of defense (or offense).

Window film isn’t just a self-protection idea though; today’s films are much more useful than that.  They aren’t a new idea or a novelty either.  These films have seen use in every corner of the globe: from solar shields in Arizona and Nevada to bomb-resistant spalling shields in Nigeria or Indonesia.  Glass is essential for most normal homes; it is also brittle, dangerous and weak in its normal stage.  But high tech films have changed all this.  Instead of paying for incredibly expensive Plexiglas or acrylic protective sheets, a thin film with a ton of resiliency is available at reasonable costs.

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There are generally five stages of “normal” window films:

  • Tinted solar film
  • Standard safety film
  • Heavier security film
  • Bullet-resistant film
  • Spalling film, which aims to control explosions and multiple projectiles

Other films are prohibitively expensive and generally utilize much heavier infrastructures than standard construction and standard glass or materials.

Solar film is made to do a variety of things, including cutting energy costs by lowering inside temperatures and reducing glare and radiation of heat.  It keeps UV light out of buildings and promotes better health for those in high-exposure areas.  The tint and UV qualities can help to shield artwork, archival inks, and materials that are typically susceptible to solar rays and light.  Because it is a film, it does provide some basic protection against shattering and breakaway glass dispersion.  It is typically made to a specification covered under ISO standards and is usually made out of polyester.

Standard safety film is the basic theft-prevention technology, offering perhaps the best value for strength and cost for the average user.  The film protects against things like golf balls and baseballs in the low end, to things like crowbars in some cases.  Essentially, it adds elasticity to the glass and at the very least makes it incredibly difficult to get through the glass in a timely manner.  These window films aren’t perfect, but they do slow down criminals and help you to get to a safe place or take action.  In many cases, it will prevent breaks on the glass from low impact hits like a ball or a fist.  The films in this category are typically four to six mils thick and do an excellent job containing glass fracturing and avoiding fragmentation.

Bullet-resistant films are typically twelve mils thick or so and can be used for aggressive burglars, small arms ammunition in many cases, and to help in situations like hurricanes.  There is some minimal bomb or explosion protection at the bullet-resistant category, with a typical elasticity around 115 percent to 135 percent elasticity (or elongation) at a penetration point or break point. There is about 350 lbs./inch break strength on polyester films of this thickness, which offers some ballistic protection against projectiles.  The tensile strength at a penetration is around 30,000 psi, which makes it incredibly difficult to make sustained or quick damage to the window/film.  While it would be easy to penetrate a single window with film using a close-proximity high-powered cartridge, it would be very difficult to penetrate it at a distance and expect a hit on a target. Furthermore, multiple layers of film on multiple panes of glass could be enough to defeat a large caliber projectile.

Bomb-resistant films utilize more than just a polyester film; they are usually used in conjunction with anchors and structural improvement to contain blasts at close proximity and to help ensure a structure after a bomb blast.  The film is the same size as the bullet-resistant film, around twelve mils thick, but the combination of structural improvement and film gives the type of integrity a bomb blast hates to go up against.  Some studies show that a large percentage of deadly injuries in bomb blasts are caused by fragmented glass, with some estimates topping 85 percent of total injuries in bombings.

This is an interesting time to talk about window films—near the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, as the Oklahoma City bombing is largely credited with perpetuating the growth of the entire industry.  Window films were introduced to drop the amount of casualties as a result of flying glass, due in part at least to the Oklahoma City bombing. It has become the single-fastest growing solution to mitigate bomb blast concerns and other violent incidents. From a cost perspective, window films offer excellent value, especially since most of them include energy efficiency benefits, UV protection, and even signal blocking technologies, which allows enhanced security and comfort for buildings at risk.

From an off-the-grid perspective, it is perhaps a bit over the top to look into bomb blast protection, but it is certainly normal to consider a window film treatment to avoid burglaries and home invasions in conjunction with proper mindset and defensive and offensive tactics, both passive and active. With the low maintenance and the impressive additional benefits, window films are perhaps one of the soundest investments you can make in your home and personal safety from a construction perspective. The lifetime of the film is generally longer than you will own a home, and you will probably not even realize the film is there most of the time, with many companies guaranteeing perfect optical quality.

If you have a need to protect the loved ones inside your home, or prefer to make your home more burglar resistant, perhaps window films are for you.

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