Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, founding partner
As warmer weather arrives, police are cautioning residents to be careful when they leave windows open to let in fresh air. Recent serious incidents involving young children falling from windows highlight an often-overlooked safety issue for children. Community safety experts offer the following guidelines:
"Every year children in our community fall from windows and land in area hospitals. Remember, children are top heavy; they can be looking out an open window one minute and falling through it the next. A screen offers little protection when the weight of a child pushes against it.
Here are some important safety tips to prevent children falling from open windows:
- Always supervise young children. Life threatening injuries can happen in seconds to a child left unattended.
- Close and lock windows whenever young children are around. If you need ventilation, open windows that children cannot reach (For example, open double hung windows from the top only).
- Keep furniture and beds away from windows. Children can quickly climb onto window ledges and fall.
- Keep window treatments (blinds, cords, drapes, etc.) out of children’s reach. They may injure themselves when climbing or be strangled."
The National Safety Council provides further detailed safety tips for children and windows. "Windows provide a secondary means of escape from a burning home. Determine your family’s emergency escape plan and practice it. Remember that children may have to rely on a window to escape in a fire. Help them learn to safely use a window under these circumstances.
- When performing spring repairs, make sure that your windows are not painted or nailed shut. You must be able to open them to escape in an emergency.
- Keep your windows closed and locked when children are around. When opening windows for ventilation, open windows that a child cannot reach, or in the case of a double-hung window, open the top sash only.
- Set and enforce rules about keeping children’s play away from windows or patio doors. Falling through the glass can be fatal or cause serious injury.
- Keep furniture – or anything children can climb – away from windows. Children may use such objects as a climbing aid.
- If you have young children in your home and are considering installing window guards or window fall prevention devices, be aware that the window guards you install must have a release mechanism so that they can be opened for escape in a fire emergency. Consult your local fire department or building code official to determine proper window guard placement.
- Some homes may have window guards, security bars, grilles or grates already covering their windows. Those windows are useless in an emergency if the devices on them do not have a functioning release mechanism. Time is critical when escaping a fire.
- Do not install window air conditioners in windows that may be needed for escape or rescue in an emergency. The air conditioning unit could block or impede escape through the window. Always be sure that you have at least one window in each sleeping and living area that meets escape and rescue requirements.
- The degree of injury sustained from a window fall can be affected by the surface on which the victim falls. Shrubs and soft edging like wood chips or grass beneath windows may lessen the impact if a fall does occur."
Many children are injured every year in preventable accidents such as falling from windows. If you have questions about this issue or others concerning the safety of your children, please feel free to contact me.
About the author:
Mr. Zambri is a Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. and has been rated by Washingtonian magazine as a "Big Gun" and among the "top 1%" of all lawyers in the Washington metropolitan area. The magazine also describes him as "one of Washington’s best–most honest and effective lawyers" who specializes in personal injury matters, including serious truck and car collisions. Mr. Zambri has also been repeatedly named a "Super Lawyer" by Law and Politics magazine–a national publication that honors the top lawyers in America.
Mr. Zambri is regularly asked to give presentations to lawyers and businesses regarding product defects, automobile accident litigation, and safety improvements.
If you want more information about your legal rights, please email Mr. Zambri at email@example.com or call him at 202-822-1899.