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The Case of the Bar Room Brawl

Getting thrown out of a window is not just an event that happens in modern action movies to raise the tension. In fact, getting thrown out a window was a common enough occurrence that the English language created a word for it in the early 1600s. By definition, defenestration is the act of throwing a person or object out of, or through, a window. It stems from the root word, fenestration, which is the arrangement of windows on the side of a building. Bartenders might wonder how to minimize damage caused by modern day defenestration. The Glass Detective has a few different options for how to handle having a person thrown into a glass window.


Dear Glass Detective,

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 kind of glass would cause the least amount of cuts or injury to someone being thrown through a bar window?





Dear Davie,

As the Glass Detective, I receive many questions from all over the country (and occasionally even from outside the country). For sure, those questions cover many topics and have a great deal of variety. Many, but certainly not all, of my responses can be found on our 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 center of 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, please don’t be offended or frightened because I also have a Green Bay Packers sock hat and a foam cheese head hat which 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 who he met while he was there.

I could not ask for a better daughter-in-law, and in spite of the fact that she 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” thick. It will break into small harmless pieces, although there still could be some scratching, and of course, small particles could get into the eyes of the person. 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” thick. This is the kind of glass used for racquetball courts.

The size of the opening needs to be considered when choosing the right glass, as does the framing to hold it in place. We may also have some building code considerations that should be discussed. For instance, there is 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 to provide a free beer or two and assure the code official that they would not have to worry about getting thrown through one of your windows, they would 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 am going to suggest that you maybe talk with a glazing contractor or architect in your area to design a system that will best work for you. I realize that you are located pretty much in the middle of the state, but maybe somebody 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 they 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, whether the said window is in a bar or not.

Last thing—could you please provide me with the exact name and address of your bar so we can let the civilized people living on the south side of the great cheddar curtain 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 I hope this response has been of some value to you.

-Glass Detective

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Lyle Hill

Lyle Hill has been in the glass and metal industry for more than 40 years. In this time he has managed glass retail, contract glazing, mirror, architectural window, window film, and automotive glass businesses throughout America. He obtained an MBA from IIT with a focus on Technology and Engineering Management. Hill is also a columnist for glass industry trade magazines and often called the “face” of the glass industry. He has also authored books including “The Broken Tomato and Other Business Parables,” which is available through Amazon. Find out more about Lyle on Linkedin.

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