Though this is just a little late, last week (the last full week in April) was Window Safety Week, sponsored by the Safety Council and window, screen and door manufacturers. It is spring time, headed into summer. The storm windows are coming off and screens are going in. For the safety of children, steps should be taken to lessen the chances of a window-related accident occurring.
- Window screens should be strong and thick enough to keep bugs out, but kids should still be able to remove them if an emergency occurs. It is also important to teach your children how to remove the screens if a fire occurs and they must escape.
- When children are around, keep windows closed and locked. If you open a window for ventilation, make sure it’s a window which is out of reach of children, such as a window behind the kitchen sink.
- If you do install window bars or guards, be sure you purchase those which have a release mechanism that will open easily in a fire emergency. Again, teach them how to remove the guard if it is necessary to escape.
- Keep furniture - or anything children can climb - away from windows. Children may use such objects as a climbing aid.
- Now that you have the proper screens and guards, prevent the children from playing near windows. Set and enforce rules about keeping children's play away from windows or patio doors.
- In order to lessen a fall's impact, place shrubs or grass beneath second- or third-story windows.
According to the Minnesota Department of Health, falls from windows account for an estimated 12 deaths and 4,000 injuries among children 10 years of age or younger every year in the United States.
Between 1993 and 2007, at least 193 serious injuries from window falls were reported in the state of Minnesota. Nineteen of those injuries resulted in a death. Of the 193 injured falling out of windows, 151 were children under 10 years of age, four of whom died.
Last year a new Minnesota law was passed requiring the installation of safety screens on any house or apartment built or remodeled after Jan. 1, 2009. The law is called "Laela's Law" for toddler Laela Shaugobay, who was injured when she fell out of a Minneapolis apartment building in 2006.