Two of the main points of window safety are to provide an escape for fires and to help prevent falls. The Window Safety Task Force of the National Safety Council reminds parents that windows play an important role in both of these areas.
In Case of Fire
Windows can provide a secondary route of escape in case of a house fire. It is important that these windows be easily opened without any special tools or training. Recognizing the important role windows play in emergencies, legislators throughout the United States have mandated building codes requiring specific windows be designated as points of escape. The ability to open windows and remove insect screens is critical to escaping through a window. As well, if a window designated as a secondary route of escape is on the second story, remember to have a fire ladder for windows installed properly.
Risk of Falls
Each year approximately 5000 children fall out of windows and many people mistakenly believe that the insect screen will protect a child from falling out of the window. When young children are in the home, consider installing window guards or window fall prevention devices. Be sure that any window guards you install have release mechanisms so that they can be opened in case of emergency. If you have double hung windows, open the windows from the top whenever possible. Be sure that the surface below the windows is not rocky or cement. Consider edging like wood chips, mulch, shrubs or grass beneath windows which may lessen the impact if a fall does occur.
Window Safety Check List
> Has your family developed an emergency fire escape plan?
> Do you keep windows shut when children are around?
> Do you leave, or have you left windows open because you thought the insect screen provided a safeguard from a fall?
> Is there furniture placed under or near windows in your home?
> Do any windows in your home have guards, security bars, grilles or grates?
> Inspect your home’s windows carefully. Are any windows in your home painted or nailed shut?
> Do you have any window unit air conditioners in bedroom windows or other windows in your home that may be needed for escape or rescue in an emergency?
> Finally, did you know that strategic landscaping may lessen the extent of injury sustained in the event a fall does occur?
Review the above points and develop a safety plan for your family. "Keeping the Promise of Safety" brochure provides helpful window safety tips. This brochure is free. Individual Brochures may be downloaded here.