Glass as we all know is a fragile item and needs to be handled with care but you wouldn’t expect glass designed for heavy loads and everyday use to spontaneously explode. But that’s what happened to a family in Cloverdale recently.

Charity Galasso’s parents were sitting nearby an outdoor patio table when suddenly it exploded sending pieces tiny glass pieces flying everywhere.

“It sounded like a gunshot they said,” Galasso explained. “What didn’t go flying went through [the table].”

Even glass expert Derek Bell was surprised when he saw the video of Galasso’s table, but he says all glass may contain minor flaws that can create a shattering risk.

"Apparently it's more of a common occurrence than we ever realized," said Bell.

The internet is littered with videos of spontaneous shattering, and there have been problems with imported glass from China. Last year, Health Canada issued a recall for a glass patio set made in China because of tempered glass shattering unexpectedly.

The Galasso family has now confirmed their table was part of the recall but they didn't know it.

Consumer Reports estimates every year there are 20,000 injuries from glass table tops in the U.S. and children are at greatest risk.

Tempered glass is meant to withstand heavy loads, but focused impacts crumble it into pieces. And sometimes you won’t know where any flaws in the glass may be.

"The weakest part of any glass is the edgework," said Bell.

Bell recommends laminated tempered glass. It will hold together if it breaks, just like a car windshield.

Other safety tips include:

  • Look for a stamp that indicates whether the glass is tempered
  • Never centre heavy loads
  • Protect the edges
  • Cover an unused patio table when not in use

Fortunately no one in the Galasso family was injured and the manufacturer had no hesitation in agreeing to replace the shattered top with new tempered glass.

"I think going forward purchasing a new patio set I probably wouldn't go for glass," said Galasso.