Making Windows Safe for the Whole Family

by Rachel Lyon, Assistant Editorial Director for Direct from the Designers™

Windows allow light and fresh air inside, and maybe help you air out the house after a mishap in the kitchen, but you don’t want anything, or anybody, important to accidentally use a window as an exit. According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, about eight children aged five and under are killed every year by falling out of windows, while 3,300 are injured and treated in hospitals. Children are more likely to experience a fall in their own homes than anywhere else.

Education on basic window safety and installing window guards have made an immense improvement in fall statistics in urban areas, and the same measures can be taken in your own home. Here’s what you need to know to make sure your windows are safe for everybody, and together we can eliminate this cause of childhood injury and death.

Integrity Windows Wood-Ultrex Casement Windows

Letting in natural light and great pastoral views, this large and bright window design features Wood-Ultrex Casement windows from Integrity® from Marvin® Windows and Doors. These windows are compatible with Window Opening Control Devices (WOCDs), which help prevent falls.

The Purpose of Windows and Screens

Great windows do amazing things for interior design, and it’s no wonder that people are choosing larger windows for their homes and incorporating them in bigger and bolder ways. Picture windows, which do not open, are becoming more mainstream, but most families still want to be able to open their homes to the breeze. Some believe that the screen that prevents insects from coming in will also keep things inside, but that isn’t the case.

In addition to all the aesthetic and functional benefits windows bring to our everyday lives, they also serve another important purpose in case of emergencies: creating egresses. A fire can trap you by closing off the path through doorways, and jumping through a window can save your life. Screens are meant to pop out for this—what good would a window that opens do if you ended up stuck behind another barrier? Even a wobbly toddler can exert enough pressure to push a screen out of frame, so you definitely can’t rely on one to prevent an accidental fall. At the end of the day, you still want to be able to exit through a window if the need arises, and you must take additional steps to prevent accidents.

Integrity Windows Wood-Ultrex Inswing French Door

This living room uses Wood-Ultrex Casement windows as well as Wood-Ultrex Inswing French Doors and skylights to create a fully surrounded, natural interior space. All furniture is in the center and away from any opening glass, which will keep kids from crawling up and out of windows.

Avoid Falls with Education and Simple Rearrangement

Children who understand safety rules are at lower risk of injury than those who haven’t been taught. Explain that windows can be dangerous if they climb out or jump from them, and that they must avoid leaning against screens or out of entirely unblocked openings. This is also a great time to teach them about using windows as escape routes if need be, so show them how easy it is to push out a screen and explain the emergency plans they should follow. By tackling these issues together, kids have a greater appreciation for both concerns.

You’ll have to take steps to remove the ability for kids to put themselves in dangerous positions when they’re too young to understand rules. The National Safety Council recommends locking any window that isn’t being used and moving furniture away from windows to prevent the possibility of climbing into a risky place. Keep play areas away from patio doors and windows that children can reach, and be sure to supervise them. Limit the chance of accidents from the outset by removing risks, knowing which ones remain, and planning accordingly.

Integrity Windows WOCD

A factory-installed WOCD allows the window to open only four inches to prevent accidental falls. To disengage this safety feature, the red buttons must be pressed together, and the window can then be opened fully. It will reset as soon as it is closed.

Outfit Windows to Protect Against Accidents

You can keep kids safe by adding an extra level of deterrence. The Window Opening Control Devices (WOCDs) from Integrity® Windows meet ASTM F2090-10 standards, and offer an additional layer of defense to prevent children aged five and under from taking a fall. Think of WOCDs like a child-proof safety cap on a bottle of medication; they will still allow the window to open fully, but only when two separate actions are performed simultaneously. Like twisting and pushing on a bottle cap, these WOCDs are disengaged when one button is pressed down and another is pushed to the side, and then the mechanism reengages once the window is closed to ensure that it only opens to the set width of four inches the next time. There is no way to completely remove the risk of window falls, but installing such devices has led to a drop in the number falls reported over the years.

If you’re looking to install built-in WOCD windows, Integrity® Windows offers factory installation on their casement, single hung, double hung, and glider varieties. You can have this life-saving child-proof feature delivered to your home in windows that provide the aesthetics, durability, and energy efficiency that you want and expect from such an investment. Find your local Integrity dealer to explore the possibilities today!

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