The first full week in April is National Window Safety week. The National Safety Council designed this week to educate parents and caregivers on how to prevent unintentional window falls and how windows can properly used for emergency escape purposes.
Falls from a window often result in serious injury or death and pose a dangerous threat for children. When prepping, consider the safety of your family members where windows are concerned.
“A tragic fall from a window can happen in seconds,” says Donna Stein-Harris, senior director of Safe Communities America for the National Safety Council. “When it comes to window safety, there is no substitute for the importance of adult supervision of children to help keep them safer.”
Here are some tips for keeping your family "window safe" year round.
Keep windows closed and locked when not in use for ventilation. (You know, to keep prowlers who look like Lucy at bay.) Seriously, most burglaries happen during the day when people are at work. 40% of burglaries are not forced entries, but are committed successfully by entering the house through an unlocked window or door.
Keep furniture children can climb away from windows.
New research indicates that 14 kids a day (5,200 kids a year) are treated in the emergency room after falling from a window. Many of these kids fell after climbing on dressers, couches or chairs sitting in front of a window. As the weather gets warmer, and the windows are open, be vigilant about your child's access to open windows.
Screens are not barriers
Do not lean on screens or rely on them to prevent a window fall – insect screens are designed to keep bugs out, not to keep children in the home. Children can't fly, and a head injury can be life altering. Supervise your children and pets at all times around screened windows and create barriers to their touching, leaning or pushing on them.
Supvervise children around open windows at all times
Supervise children to prevent them from playing near windows, balconies or patio doors. Children are curious and fast. An open window is an open invitation to explore. Children can lose balance easily and often have no fear of heights or what can harm them. A simple slip can result in a life-altering injury or worse, death.
Invest in window guards
Install building code-compliant devices such as window guards (with quick-release mechanisms in case of fire). Stores that specialize in child safety, such as safehomeproducts.com, offer a variety of different removable guards (removable by adults, not children) for inside the home. It's hard to be with a busy child every second, and window guards are good barriers to a life-altering fall.
Plants and bushes under windows soften a fall
Create soft landing surfaces (i.e. bushes or plant beds) to help prevent serious injuries in case of a fall. The higher the window, the harder the fall. But a small child can be injured from a fall of a mere few feet. Lush plants and bushes will help break the fall and help prevent a serious head injury or other broken bones.
Know and practice an escape plan
Have and practice a family escape plan and teach children how to safely use a window to escape during an emergency. Never assume your children understand that a window is a means of escape. Small children may only consider doors as ways to leave a room. Explain to all your children and family members that if the situation merits it, a window is equal to a door in an emergency.
Make sure windows aren't nailed shut
When performing spring repairs, make sure windows are not painted or nailed shut as you must be able to open them to escape in an emergency. Some older windows may have storm window latches on the outside that cannot be reached from the inside. Update your windows so that they can be opened and/or locked and unlocked from the inside.
Do not install airconditioners in escape windows
Do not install window unit air conditioners in windows that may be needed for escape or rescue in an emergency. The air conditioning unit could block or impede escape through the window. Always be sure that you have at least one window in each sleeping and living area that meets escape and rescue requirements.
Prevention = careful supervision
Preventing falls out of windows is just as important as learning how to use one in an emergency. Unattended children run the greatest risk of falls and injuries, so the best first step is to carefully watch your children as they play. Nothing can substitute for careful supervision.
Fall from windows cause severe injuries
While most falls do not cause death, those that do usually occur from great heights or onto hard surfaces. Falls from windows cause more severe injuries and deaths than any other type of fall. Therefore, it is very important for parents to understand the risk of window falls and to take proper steps to help prevent them.