As we emerge from the cold winter months with our eyes toward spring, it is an ideal time for every household to pause to consider window safety in the home. Many will open their windows for the first time in months to let in the fresh air. Spring cleaning chores often involve opening and washing windows. With these considerations in mind, the National Safety Council has designated April 5-11 National Window Safety Week.
Open or unsecured windows can be particularly hazardous when children are in the home. It is best to keep windows closed and locked when children are present. Remember that window screens are intended only to prevent insects from coming in, and not to protect children from falling out. Therefore, when opening windows for ventilation, open only those windows positioned at a height where small children cannot reach. Avoid placing furniture, or any other items upon which children might be tempted to climb, in front of windows.
Various window guards or window fall prevention devices are available for purchase online and in stores. These devices can take various forms, such as a set of removable steel bars which can prevent falls, or pieces of hardware which secure casement windows in an open position but with a narrow opening. Be sure to choose a device that complies with ASTM F2090, which ensures minimum safety requirements for window fall prevention devices. Your local fire department or building code official also can provide assistance in selecting the proper device.
Finally, in considering household window safety, families should be mindful of their escape route in the event of a house fire. Every family should develop and practice a fire emergency escape plan. Children should be instructed as to how to safely use designated windows that may be needed as an exit during an emergency if a primary exit is blocked by smoke or fire. Keep the areas surrounding such windows free from obstacles, and be sure that any window fall prevention devices have a release mechanism so that they can be opened quickly and easily.
Keep these household window safety tips in mind as you welcome the warmer temperatures over the coming months to help ensure a safe and happy spring season for you and your family.
About the Author: David M. Irvine is an experienced trial attorney focusing his practice on personal injury law working in the firm’s Charlottesville, Virginia office. He has handled cases involving car accidents, catastrophic injuries and wrongful death and has litigated cases across the Commonwealth on behalf of deserving clients. David has published on topics related to litigation in wrongful death cases and trial procedure and regularly speaks on litigation topics.