i-Team Investigation: Shattering glass shower doors causing hundreds of injuries
It's a frightening scenario: you're in the shower and boom, the glass door explodes into thousands of pieces. It's becoming more common with the popularity of glass shower doors in homes and hotels. The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates 2,300 people went to emergency rooms for treatment over the past four years with cuts on arms, legs, hands, feet, heads and upper body.
Tempered safety glass is mandated by the federal government on shower doors. If it breaks, it's safer crumbling into thousands of small pieces rather than large shards of glass which could take a limb off.
But now there's concern about what's causing the tempered glass to shatter, sometimes in the middle of the night when nobody's even near the shower. Dianna Parker says there was no warning. "I had shards of glass on my neck, all over my body." Data from the CPSC finds nearly half the injured are children. (49% under 18)
Experts say a manufacturing defect can cause the spontaneous "explosions" of the glass. Installers warn you to be reasonable with the size of glass you want and it needs to be at least 3/8 of an inch thick.
Alabama Glass Crafters owner Robert Hearn says the door screws need to be anchored into wood behind the tile for stability. The hinges need to be designed for the right weight and padded with rubber so they are not touching the glass. He says an experienced installer will also sand the edges on the bottom corners of the glass.
Glass expert Mark Meshulam recommends domestic glass which he believes is better quality. He believes applying a plastic film to the glass makes it safer, holding it together should it break. "If you do it right, the film is foolproof," explains Meshulam who is considered this country's premier expert. If the door has a frame, consider adding an anti-jump device to keep it on the track.
Some other tips: never let your kids hang or pull on the towel bar or handles, periodically check the glass for chips and scratches around the frame. The glass should never hit the tile or metal.