Brush Up on Window Safety Basics as Summer Approaches
By Scott Stonebreaker
It’s not surprising that after a cold winter, getting a chance to open up the windows and let some fresh air into your home is a long awaited pleasure. As spring approaches, keep in mind that in addition to letting in a refreshing breeze, windows also play an essential role in home safety.
Your windows can serve as secondary escape routes from your home and are invaluable in case of emergency; every member of your family should know how to take advantage of a window exit during a fire. However, it is equally as important for homeowners to understand that open windows can be hazardous, especially to young children, and to be familiar with the important steps you can take to prevent accidental falls.
Take some time to assess the condition of your home’s windows and test your family’s awareness of their importance in terms of overall home safety. The tips below can help ensure that your windows provide a trouble-free escape route for your family in an emergency while remaining safe for youngsters in your home.
- Windows provide one of the fastest, easiest alternatives to escape a house fire. Sit down with your family to design an emergency escape plan—and practice it. Always be sure that there is at least one window in each sleeping and living area that is available as an alternate escape route during a home emergency.
- Make sure that your windows open and close easily. When performing spring repairs, be careful not to accidentally paint or nail your windows shut, making emergency escape impossible. Do not install window unit air conditioners where they could block or impede escape during an emergency.
- While security bars, grilles and window grates keep intruders out, they also can lock you in. Make sure they have a simple and functioning release mechanism, so that you can escape a fire.
- If you have young children in your home and are thinking about installing window fall prevention devices or guards, make sure the product has a release mechanism so that it can be opened for escape in a fire emergency. Consult your local fire department or building code official to determine proper window guard placement.
- When children are present, make sure that windows are closed and locked. Set and enforce rules to keep your children from playing around windows or patio doors, and keep furniture, along with any other objects that children may climb, away from windows.
- Don’t depend on window screens to prevent falls. Insect screens are designed to provide ventilation while keeping pests and debris out—not to keep youngsters in.
- Plant shrubs and other soft landscaping underneath windows to lessen the impact in case of a fall.
For more information about window safety tips, visit the National Safety Council Web site at www.nsc.org.