Back To School Security
- Darrell Smith
School buildings when I attended elementary school were designed far differently than today's structures. The exterior was usually brick and the windows, while wood framed and single pane, were placed pretty high off the ground, so it would be difficult for someone to reach up to get inside. The front doors were solid wood flanked with narrow glass sidelites.
Most contemporary school buildings are designed with an open look, both inside and out, using large glass panels as focal points around the building. It's important to note that any window that is 9 square feet (such as a 3 foot by 3 foot glass) or more and 18 inches or less from a floor must be tempered glass.
Tempered glass when broken crumbles into small pieces, instead of jagged shards, an important safety feature, but this characteristic also makes it an easy target for an intruder. They can quickly smash the window or shoot it to gain fast entry. The latter has been the means of entry in a number of cases where access to a school was gained by shooting out the glass panels of a door.
School security and how to improve it needs to be a regular community topic and item for action. The National School Safety Center recommends placing school security at the top of the educational agenda. After all, it's difficult to learn and to teach if the environment doesn't feel safe.
The International Window Film Association, as the leading global organization that facilitates and educates on what window films can and cannot do is launching an education program this month on security window films and schools.
Security Window Film, while definitely not bulletproof, offers a cost-effective glass retrofit that helps to hold the glass in place when impacted. Some security window film can be adhered or mechanically anchored to the window frame to greatly increase its holding power. By delaying someone attempting to gain entry, people have an opportunity to alert police and take steps to protect themselves or exit the building.
Security Window Film is a highly engineered, polyester film composite. It undergoes various testing and treatments to provide a high degree of safety. Additional coatings on security films can offer other features such as solar control; glare protection, privacy and decorative enhancements for windows. These products should be considered as part of an overall layered security strategy for schools everywhere.