Simulated tripwire bomb

A tripwire is a passive triggering mechanism. Typically, a wire or cord is attached to a device for detecting or reacting to physical movement.

Military applications

Such tripwires may be attached to one or more mines – especially fragmentation or bounding mines – in order to increase the area where triggering may occur.[citation needed]. Trip wires are frequently used in booby traps—where either a tug on the wire, or the release of tension on it, will trigger the explosives.

Soldiers sometimes detect the presence of tripwires by spraying the area with Silly String. It will settle to the ground in areas where there are no wires. Where wires are present, the "strings" will rest on the taut wires without triggering the explosive, due to its light weight. Its use in detecting tripwires was first discovered in 1993 by Sergeant First Class David B. Chandler, Chief Instructor of the United States Army's Sapper Leader Course. That year it was introduced to students attending the course, and it was later used in combat for this purpose by U.S. troops in the Iraq War.[1][2][3]

Another detection method is the use of green line lasers to illuminate and thus expose trip and command wires. The bright laser beam reflects off the tripwire and can be seen by the user.

Industrial applications

A tripwire may be installed in the vicinity of industrial equipment, such as a conveyor belt to enable workers to stop the equipment quickly.[4] These may also be called emergency stop pull-cords.[5]


  1. ^ Martens, Ellin (19 November 2006). "Not So Silly String in Iraq". Time. Archived from the original on 6 December 2006. Retrieved 16 October 2007.
  2. ^ "A Serious Use For Silly String". CBS News. 6 December 2006. Archived from the original on 28 October 2020. Retrieved 16 October 2007.
  3. ^ "FOX VIDEO: 'Silly String' is saving lives over in Iraq". The Raw Story. Archived from the original on 12 October 2007. Retrieved 16 October 2007.
  4. ^ "Safe and reliable conveyor belt stopping, where and whenever it is needed". Eaton. The conveyor trip switch, is a safety switch that has a pretension device which allows the trip wire to be tensioned.
  5. ^ "Machine Safety 101". Compliance InSight Consulting Inc. 28 August 2018.