Window Safety

Window safety involves both keeping children away from windows and preventing adverse results if they should reach them despite your best efforts. It also involves keeping unwanted pests out of your home. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that over 4,000 children are treated in emergency rooms each year for injuries related to falls from windows. Window safety should be of the utmost importance.

Windows and Pests

Screens are usually efficient at keeping pests, such as flying insects, spiders, birds, and bats out of your living area. Check screens periodically for any damage (cats who like to sit on windowsills can tear the mesh with their sharp claws) and repair or replace as necessary.

Windows and Children

While screens can be effective for keeping pests out, they are not a good safety measure to rely on for keeping children in. Window safety should be top priority in any home with young children. There are, however, some good measures to take to avoid accidents with children and windows.

  • Keep windows closed and locked or behind guards or use window stops, as appropriate.
  • Avoid placing furniture so as to give access to windows. Not only could the baby break the glass cut him or herself, and/or fall, but any cords or draperies or blinds could get tangled around the child, and very long items could cause a tripping hazard.
  • Any cords or draperies in the living room should be shortened (products called cord shorteners are available) and kept out of reach.
  • Window guards are essential window safety devices that help minimize the danger of a child falling from a window. Window guards allow windows to open a small amount for ventilation, without risk that a child can reach the window and fall out.
  • Window guards are recommended for all windows with a greater than 10 foot (3.04 m) drop. This will include all second floor windows and may include some first floor windows as well.

Make sure that there is a quick release for an emergency and that every adult and older child in the house knows how to use the emergency release. Also, make sure you’ve identified which windows are your fire exits and check to make sure the guards you’re considering purchasing for those particular windows are appropriate for fire exit windows: not all window guards are.

Window guards should conform to American Society for Testing and Material Standards as well as local fire and building codes.

  • Window stops are an alternative approach to window safety. They prevent windows from opening more than 4 inches (10.16 cm).
  • Although at least one safety site suggests window nets, this is not a product that is readily available.
  • There’s one other way that windows are involved in child safety: placing a Find-a-Tot sticker on your window lets rescue workers quickly identify a child’s bedroom to make emergency rescue quicker.

Written by Mary Elizabeth

Related Home Institute Articles

  • Stair Safety
  • Quick Guide to Home Safety Tools
  • Types of House Windows
  • Childproofing the Outside
  • Childproofing the Living Room
  • Securing Windows