You never know what’s going to happen. From civil unrest, fire, industrial accidents, and explosions to everyday burglaries and theft, it can seem hard to find effective and affordable ways to make your home more secure. Window security film is a layer of transparent plastic sheeting that is applied to a window. The sheet strengthens the window and prevents it from shattering on impact.
The thicker the film, the more impact resistance and protection it provides. Thicknesses typically range from 2–12 mm but some films from professional glass shops can be slightly thicker.
Because it isn’t visible, your landlord may not even notice. If they do, explain that the film can be removed without harming the window. Of course, talking to them about it in advance is a good option. In my experience, most will be happy that you’re increasing the security of the property they own.
Consider the recent massive explosion of ammonium nitrate in Beirut, Lebanon. Thousands of people were injured. Cuts and lacerations were some of the most common injuries. Tempered glass or glass that has windows security film applied will not send shards flying. The glass may break or shatter, but it will not go very far, and the pieces will not be jagged.
In this video, you will see how 3M Window film can prevent windows from blowing out during an explosion.
Even a regular windstorm can cause flying debris that can break windows. Hurricanes and tornadoes can turn even small pieces of wood into deadly projectiles. Once a window is breached, water, other objects, debris, wildlife, and people can more easily cause additional damage to your home or outbuildings. Looting after a natural disaster is unfortunately common, but even water damage can lead to a major loss of items, some of which may be impossible to replace.
At this point, the United States has seen more than 2 months of civil unrest in many of the nation’s cities. Attempts are being made to bring unrest to the suburbs. Smaller towns and communities are now the scene of smaller scale protests that have the potential to turn violent. It is incredibly easy to start violence. Unfortunately, once the cycle starts it is often impossible to stop until it reaches a climax of some sort.
Small acts of vandalism can cause injury and damage too. It does not take much to cause a major injury or financial loss. Security film can help protect you and your family during these uncertain times. Unlike some preparedness efforts, you don’t have to spend a lot of money all at once to be more prepared. Buy the best film you can afford, and treat the windows and doors that are easiest to access. Other windows can be treated later.
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In some areas, birds and other animals can actually be very hazardous. When I lived in Ketchikan, Alaska, there was a particularly memorable incident when a mature bald eagle caused some major damage. Some of the nicer homes in the city are on a huge bluff overlooking the water. A woman was enjoying a cup of coffee when a bald eagle with a huge salmon in its talons flew into her picture window hard enough to shatter it and drop the fish near her. Had her window been coated with a good security film, she might not have had any damage at all.
I now live in an area of North Carolina where there are a lot of second homes and vacation rentals. Black bears are common here, and they know where the food is. When the forest has a bad year and their usual food is scarce, bears are more likely to try to find food near people. Breaking glass to get into homes is a possibility. Window film on sliding glass doors and ground-level windows is highly recommended.
Some readers may be considering building a bug out cabin or living remotely. Food smells inevitably attract wildlife. If they learn that they can even sometimes succeed at getting fed, there is a good chance they will be back. Bug out cabins and homes are often empty too. This presents an opportunity for break-ins from humans as well. There are a lot of hikers and transient people. There are very few truly remote locations left in the United States. Although encroachment from people may be rare, don’t be naive enough to think that you are so far back that you are immune to theft and vandalism.
Did you know that fires can blow out windows? This happens through a phenomenon known as backdraft, and it can send shards flying at high speeds for a great distance. This can happen while people are still trying to get out. Safety film can help hold glass together and prevent shards when windows are blown out. Remember that even after you are out, firefighters and emergency personnel are at risk. While window film cannot totally neutralize the danger from glass, it can help a lot.
As window films are usually rated to block 99% of UV light, they can reduce your cooling costs in the summer months.
Vandalism is on the rise. Spray paint and other substances applied to glass can be a nightmare to remove without damaging the glass. If you call in a pro to do it, the cost can add up fast. If you have window security film on the outside of your windows, you can simply remove the film and the graffiti is gone. Reapply a new sheet of film and you’re ready for any future incidents without spending a ton of money.
Automotive theft and break-ins are on the rise. Many people use public parking garages or park on the street. You can prevent theft by using security film on the windows of your car. This also provides additional protection if you find yourself driving through areas of civil unrest. Consider how many incidents there have been recently where drivers made a wrong turn or were trying to commute home only to find themselves in the middle of a bad situation. Keeping others from entering your vehicle and preventing glass shattering are major advantages that can allow you to get to safety.
Note: Llumar security film is only available through dealers. Results will vary when using other types of security film or film that you install yourself.
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Although security film is not bulletproof, it will stop gunshots from shattering your window. The video below is a demonstration of how Llumar protective window film performs when someone shoots a window using an AR-15.
Despite the bullet holes, the window holds up to impacts from boots and a rifle. That is pretty impressive, and most importantly, it buys you time to get to your own weapon and plan your next move. Seconds count during an invasion or attack.
Homeowners and renters can purchase security film on Amazon. If you just have a few windows to cover and want to do it fast, this is probably your best option. Those with a lot of windows to cover or who want a particular brand, should look at company websites and find a dealer in their area. Hiring a professional installer may be more feasible for some, especially if you have a particularly large home or business.
Some brands of film are simply not available except through an authorized dealer. Here are links to some of the brands that have excellent reputations but must be purchased through glass tinting establishments or similar. You can enter your zip code to find a pro in your area that can help you get exactly what you need.
Sometimes product descriptions can be a bit misleading. Be sure that your security film is not just meant to provide privacy or decorative effects. You may be able to find specialty films that offer decorative effects and provide shatter resistance, but you do not want to find out that you paid good money for a product that doesn’t offer you the protection and performance you desire.
This section gives some examples of films that are available to order online. This means that you can add valuable security and peace of mind the next time you have a little bit of free time. Make sure to measure all of the windows you want to protect to be sure you have enough to complete your project. Demand for security products is high.
BDF is a reliable window film security brand. The 8 mil thick film comes in rolls of various sizes. Choose the appropriate width and length based on your window sizes. This film is ideal for those who want to handle the job with just one roll and a few tools. BDF rolls come with some tools, but you may want to buy a window film installation kit if you have someone helping you put up your film. [newsletterCard]
For those who want the thickest protection, get a 12 mil thick film. It is considerably more expensive, but it is 50% thicker than the 8 mil. You could use a mix of thicknesses to reduce cost if that’s an issue. Use the thickest film on your most exposed and vulnerable windows and the thinner film on second story windows or those that are less likely to be used as an access point.
This brand seems to have some odd sizes, which can be a good thing if you have larger windows to cover. This window security film is a full 12 mil thick and is specially designed for storefronts and other areas that require the highest level of security film. If you have really wide windows, this is a good company to get your film from. Rolls come in widths that range from 1.5 to 5 feet. You can also get shorter rolls if you just have a few larger windows to cover.
Many of you have seen pictures of skyscrapers with mirrored surfaces that allow those inside to see out but do not allow anyone to see in. You can create the same effect at home using windows security film. This is a good alternative to curtains and blinds on ground-level windows. One of the first apartments I lived in after college had a big beautiful window, but I never enjoyed it because it gave the world a perfect view into most of the apartment.
Privacy film would have allowed a lot of light in and made the whole place much nicer to live in. Mirrored films keep people from seeing your possessions and make it harder to tell whether anyone is home.
Another popular window film is blackout window film. Why would you want to totally darken a window? During a SHTF situation or long emergency even if you have plenty of electricity, you may want to reduce how much visible light comes from your home. Light can be a beacon. The disadvantage of blackout film is that unlike curtains or blinds, it takes a lot more time to take down.
This type of film is best used in areas where you want to block out light for long periods of time. If you’ve considered having something on hand to black out windows in an emergency, blackout window film may be a good choice because it is affordable, and a few rolls take up very little space.
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Note: This brand does not provide any shatter protection, it just blocks light. It can be easily removed. This film lets no light in or out. Read on for blackout film that provides shatter protection.
The film does not have any adhesive. It clings to the window via static. Cutting film to the right size is one of the more time-consuming aspects of window film. This film has an easy grid-style cutting guide on the back. Some people use this film in bedrooms to block out light pollution that can interfere with sleep.
This film is excellent for those that want to totally prevent people from seeing inside a home or business during the day while allowing the occupants to see out. The 8 mil thickness provides superior shatter resistance and protection from vandalism.
It is important to measure each window that you want to protect. This allows you to purchase sheets or rolls that are close to your window sizes so that the application is easier and waste is reduced. The application method listed below is from BDF. Be sure to look at the instructions that come with the type of film you buy in case they are different. If your film does not come with tools you can purchase an Exacto knife and squeegee. Here is a link to an install kit.
Window film that is installed without the help of a pro is usually installed on the interior of the window, but check the instructions for the film you buy. You may want to apply it on both sides for different types of protection or to double the strength.
Although it won’t stop bullets, it will make entry significantly harder. It will also provide critical protection from flying debris in hurricanes and other inclement weather.
Blasts from bombs and other explosives could be more of an issue considering the times that we are living in. While you can’t control the actions of others, you can take control by being more prepared for the possibilities that life can present at any time.
Do you have experience with window security film? Did you install it yourself or hire a professional? Share your experience in the comments.
Climatic conditions matter of course, but the general rule is that you can expect window security film to last 15–20 years. Some of the thicker professional-grade films may last longer. Proper application and buying a quality product will help ensure a longer life. If film is compromised, you may want to replace it. Any sign of peeling is a sign that your film is a candidate for replacement.
No. Window films are meant to applied and left in place unless its description specifically states otherwise. They can be difficult to remove and leave a residue that must be cleaned off. Unless just the film is severely damaged, there is little reason to remove film.
Samantha is Ready To Go Survival's lead editor, a life-long outdoorswoman with a Bachelors in Environmental Studies. She learned the foundation of preparedness from her father who saw heavy combat in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive. An avid outdoors woman and survivalist, her articles have appeared in various homesteading magazines such as GRIT, Back Home, Backwoods Home, and Countryside.