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2 Investigators: Older Glass Windows Are Potentially Deadly

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(CBS) – Lean against or touch certain glass windows and doors and you can actually be putting yourself in danger.

CBS 2’s Dave Savini shows how the danger lies with how the glass is made.

“This is a deadly weapon,” says glass safety expert Mark Meshulam as he shows a sharp, jagged broken piece of glass from a window. “This is just crazy.”

The type of glass he is talking about is called annealed glass. It is found in windows in older homes, schools and storefronts exempt from more current rules requiring safer, tempered glass windows. Tempered glass breaks into small pieces, while annealed breaks into large, jagged ones that can cause greater injury.

There have even been deaths.

Fifty-two-year-old Michael Racky lost his life after falling through a glass window. His adult children, Meghan and Sean Racky, say their dad leaned against an annealed plate glass window in Oak Lawn, and it shattered, nearly amputating his leg.

“It hurts a lot,” Meghan Racky says. “I have to wake up every day realizing, I’ll never see him again.”

They say a BB-gun hole compromised the window three years earlier.

“It’s actually a very big problem that many people aren’t even aware of,” Sean Racky says.

Tape was used to hold it together, says the Racky’s attorney Tom Paris.

“Packing tape is not an answer for compromised glass,” he says.

CBS 2 found that tape is being used on other annealed glass windows in Chicago, including at a Laundromat and a daycare. Meshulam says they are dangerous.

The 2 Investigators found 6,069 city citations were issued for window code violations between 2010 and 2013.

“Somebody, sometime, is going to go into that glass,” Meshulam warns outside one building.

Maria Elena Gonzalez was standing outside of a South Side apartment building in 2006 when she was struck by a falling window.

“The pain was unbelievable,” says Gonzalez, who had never thought about the danger a window could pose.

The 2 Investigators went back to the building where Gonzalez was hit by the window and found five more broken windows.

Annealed glass windows and doors are being blamed for deaths around the country, including a Pennsylvania art professor who fell through a glass door at a restaurant and bled to death.

The solution, Meshulam says, is simple, and he demonstrated. He struck a tempered glass window with a special weight bag; initially, the glass failed to even break. It did break on the next test, but broke into tiny pieces instead of the jagged shards of annealed glass.

Building codes can vary by community, when it comes to the type of glass required in homes and businesses. Safety glass is pretty much mandatory in doors, but not all windows are required to have it.

Houses and other buildings built before 1977 were not even required to have safety glass.

If you are not sure what type of glass you have, look at the corners. Safer tempered glass typically has the manufacturer’s logo etched into it.

Attempts to reach the business and building owners were unsuccessful.

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