Having recently completed a series on selecting the right windows for your home, it seems only appropriate to let you know (with a big thank you to our friends at Simonton Windows for reminding us) that this coming week, April 7-13, 2013, is National Window Safety Week. As such, we felt this would be a good time to offer you some window safety tips. Some of these were offered by Simonton, while others are tips that we have come up with over the years, but they are all equally important to your family’s safety:
- Never push on screens! Window screens are only to keep pests out of your home, and have no safety value, as such. It takes very little pressure to push out a window screen, which could easily lead to falls and serious injuries, or worse. Teach your kids to never play around windows, and make sure you do not place furniture near windows where children can climb on it and possibly fall out of an open window, or break the glass in a closed window, leading to injuries. There are also window safety devices on the market that are supposed to protect children from falls, but this is not something we deal with, so our knowledge on this subject is rather limited.
- Always lock your windows. Not only will locking your windows protect you and your family from intruders and reduce your heating and cooling costs by minimizing air leakage, but it will also prevent small children from pushing unlocked windows open, again, potentially leading to a serious accident. Be aware, however, that you should teach your children, as they get older, how to unlock windows in case of emergency, as well as how to use an emergency chain ladder if they sleep on an upper level, so that they can escape in the event of fire or other danger.
- Do not nail, paint, or otherwise seal windows closed. While you may think that sealing windows will help protect your family from accidents or intruders, please remember that it will also prevent your family or emergency personnel from opening the window in case of emergency. On that note, you should also make sure that at least one window in each bedroom meets egress requirements. There are specific height and width opening requirements, which your contractor or building inspector will be able to provide to you, but, for the sake of simplicity, the opening with sash in but raised to maximum must be large enough for a fully grown adult to enter and exit without difficulty.
- “Air locks” or “vent latches” are not a security feature! Many windows now come standard with air latches, small mechanisms, often plastic, which can be used to limit how far a sash can be opened. These are great for allowing air flow without having to worry about children falling out the window. However, please be aware that it does not take a great deal of strength to push the sash to the point that these latches may snap, allowing the sash to be opened fully. Therefore, never assume that a vent latch will keep an intruder from opening a window from the outside. That is not the intention of these components. They are not in any way a security device and should not be used as such.
We want you and your family to be safe at all times, and we hope these tips will increase your knowledge when it comes to window safety.