The little nose and handprints all over your windows are hard to miss. With or without the smudges, it’s no secret – if little kids aren’t outside, they want to see what's going on outside. Peering outside might seem like harmless entertainment, but if a child falls out a window, serious injuries can occur. In fact, according to 2011 information from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, an average of eight children under age 5 die each year as a result of falling from windows, while more than 3000 sustain injuries. The good news is that you can take precautions at home to prevent these types of accidents.
Window locks allow you to prevent a window from opening at all -- or to only 4 inches, which is the recommended safe height. You should use window locks on any window that is more than 12 feet above the ground. A bonus of window locks is that In addition to keeping your little one inside, they help keep thieves outside.
The type of window lock you use depends on the type of window you want to lock. There are locks for sliding windows and locks for double-hung windows. Locks for sliding windows include door bolt-like devices, a stop that slips over the window track, and a key track stop you can place anywhere on the track. Locks for double-hung windows include a pin that goes through each section, a ventilating lock that attaches to one section, a keyed turnbuckle and a hinged wedge lock.
In addition to window locks, you can take additional steps at home to prevent a fall. Keep beds and other furniture kids away from the windows so kids won't climb on them to try to reach the windows. If you do open windows without locks, only open ones you're certain that your little ones can’t reach -- and open them from the top not the bottom. It might seem like common sense, but you need to always watch your kids when they’re around windows. Use wood chips, grass or shrubs as landscaping under windows to offer a softer landing for any potential falls.
Windows might be your only escape option in case of a fire, so it’s important to keep that in mind when installing window locks. Leave at least one window unlocked for a quick escape, or make sure you install locks that don’t require any extra tools or exertion to remove. .
5. Window Guards
Window guards are an option if you want the freedom to open a window more than just 4 inches. Window guards are aluminum or steel bars that you install in your window frames. When installed properly, you shouldn't have more than 4 inches below or above the guard. Make sure you use guards that have release mechanisms in case of a fire.
- Wisconsin Department of Health Services: Window Guards and Locks Prevent Falls
- Boston Public Health Commission: Kids Can't Fly - Protect Your Child From Window Falls
- Home Depot: Secure Your Windows
- Children's Hospital Colorado: Keeping Kids Safe Around Windows
- Consumer Product Safety Commission: Parents, Caregivers Should Consider Safety Before Opening Windows
- Ryan McVay/Lifesize/Getty Images