The Great Cheddar Curtain

By Lyle Hill

As I’ve previously reported, I’m part of a team that responds to consumer questions that come through the Glass.com® website. The site averages more than 100,000 consumer visits a month, and attracts a great variety of people. Most of the site visitors are trying to identify a type of glass they want or are perhaps looking for someone to do work for them. Some know exactly what they want, and others are looking for technical information or advice on a project. Daniel Snow, the vice president of operations, coordinates this effort. And for some reason, Mr. Snow seems to take great delight in giving me the most interesting consumer questions to answer. After the following consumer response was published, it was suggested that the readers of my column might like to read it as well. I’m not sure what this says about you … the readers of this column … but here it is.

The Consumer’s Question: If someone was concerned about someone else getting thrown through a window during a bar fight, what type of glass would you recommend be used? Specifically, what type of glass would cause the least amount of cuts or injury to someone being thrown through a bar window?

Response: Dear Wisconsin-Based Consumer … here at Glass.com we receive a great many questions from all over the country (and occasionally even from outside the country). Those questions cover many topics and have a lot of variety. Most of our responses are on our Glass.com website. Your question, however, is unique and the first of its kind. I want to compliment you for having so much concern about someone who might get “thrown through  a window during a bar fight.” You must be a very kind and considerate person to care  so much about the safety of others. The fact that this very unusual question comes from the great state of Wisconsin does not surprise me, however, because I am quite familiar with Wisconsin and its bars.

I am typing this response to you while I am wearing my Chicago Bears sweatshirt. However, don’t be offended or frightened because I also have a Green Bay Packers sock hat and a foam cheese head hat that I received as a birthday gift many years ago. In fact, my son is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater, where he played hockey for three years and, most importantly, met and married a Wisconsin girl while he was there. I could not ask for a better daughter-in-law, and in spite of the fact that she talks kind of funny and insists on wearing Packers stuff every time the team plays, she is a delight to be around. I also have a granddaughter attending Carroll College in Wisconsin presently and most summers you can find our family spending a fair amount of time in Door County. Additionally, I have been interviewed on Wisconsin Public Radio (103.5 FM) and have many Wisconsin friends. I tell you all of this to let you know that I am familiar with the people and the bars on what we Chicagoans call the north side of the great cheddar curtain. Now back to your question.

If you want to allow the person being thrown through the window to literally be thrown through it, a thin piece of tempered glass would probably be best. Say maybe 1/8-inch thick. It will break into small, harmless pieces, although there still could be some scratching and, of course, small particles could get into the person’s eyes.

If you would prefer that the person bounce off the glass and not go through it, then you would want to use a very thick piece of tempered glass, such as ¾-inch thick. We may also have some building code considerations that should be discussed. For instance, there’s a strong possibility that safety glazing codes already require that an approved product be used and you might want to take a quick look at the fire code requirements for your
area as well. Maybe a quick chat with someone from the local building department is in order. I’m sure if you promise a free beer or two and assure the code officials they wouldn’t have to worry about getting thrown through your windows, they’d be happy to stop by and render an opinion.

Apparently, this “throwing people through your bar windows” is a somewhat common event or you wouldn’t be asking these questions. So, I’m going to suggest you talk with a glazing contractor or architect in your area to design a system that will best work for you. I realize that you’re located pretty much in the middle of the state, but maybe some folks from Green Bay could drive down and give you their thoughts on all of this as well. I’m going to guess that maybe they have some experience in this whole “tossing people through bar windows” thing and could be helpful. For the record, I do need to tell you that our organization does not encourage, understand or endorse throwing anyone through any window at any time , whether said window is in a bar or not. We are a reasonably peaceful bunch here and while we have no practical experience with “bar tossing” we are pretty good with glass and therefore have some level of confidence in our suggestions.

Last thing … could you please provide us with the exact name and address of your bar so we can advise the civilized people living on the south side of the great cheddar curtain to stay away from you on game days and in particular on those days when the Bears are playing the Packers. I would appreciate this a great deal. Thank you again for contacting Glass.com. We hope this has been helpful.

Lyle Hill is the managing director of Keytech North America, a company providing research and technical services for the glass and metal industry. He also serves as president of Glass.com, an information portal and job generation company for the glass industry. Hill has more than 50 years’ experience in the glass and metal industry and can be reached at lhill@glass.com.

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