Children spend most of their time at home, so when statistics show that most accidents happen here, it comes as no surprise. Unfortunately, many parents overlook the fact that accidents that occur in the home cause far more fatalities and injuries to children than anything else.
According to the Journal of Pediatrics, a massive 83 per cent of the cases of children falling out of windows involve screened windows. Screens are designed to keep insects out, but they cannot prevent infants, toddlers or even older children from falling out of the window.
To protect your kids from window falls:
- Never leave children alone in a room where the windows are open and not childproofed
- If you have not childproofed the windows, keep the bottom ones closed. You can open the top windows for fresh air
- Keep all furniture that children can climb on away from the windows
- Clear all light objects that can be stacked to access a window or objects that when thrown can break a window (like marbles)
- Never let your child play on a roof or fire escape; near elevator shafts, steps or stairs; or in halls that don’t have window guards.
So, what kind of childproofing can you use, and how do you check if it is working?
- Window guards
These are grill-type protectors that create the impression of a baby jail, but they give parents peace of mind in knowing that their child cannot fall out of an open window. They are easy to open for adults in the event of an emergency, but young kids cannot open them.
Window guards work with nearly any type and size of window, including single and double hung, casement, awning, and sliders. They use a telescoping bar that slides out to fit your window width, which can then be locked in place with hardware (screws).
To ensure that your window guard is safe, check if it works with a metal, wood, or vinyl window frame. Also check if it has an emergency release, and whether the window guard is approved for installation in all rooms, including bedrooms.
- Window stops
These nifty, wedge-like devices prevent a window from opening beyond a certain point, sort of like fitting a door wedge up on your window. They are very discreet, though they tend to limit your window opening range considerably.
Window stops are mostly used with sliders and single and double hung window styles. But if you have vinyl windows, make sure to buy a compatible window stop.
- Using a Charley bar
Charley bars can be used to baby proof your sliding windows. They work in a similar way to a boom gate in that when it is in the up position, you can freely open your sliding window. But when the Charley bar drops to the horizontal position, the window remains closed as if locked with a wedge.
A Charley bar should be installed upside-down so that it is high enough, beyond your child’s reach. You can easily cut the bar with a hacksaw to fit any size of sliding windows.
- Removing the window handle
This is a trick you can use to keep your crank or casement windows shut.
These windows come with a little crank that you turn to open/close the window. But these handles are not permanently fixed to the window, you can actually remove them by either unscrewing or pulling them straight off.
Be careful when removing the crank handle to avoid damaging it, as you will still need to open your windows for ventilation.
- Shard-proof window films
These transparent window films are applied to the glass to prevent the shards from scattering in the event that the windowpane is broken. It does not harden the glass or prevent it from cracking or breaking; its only role is to contain the shards of broken glass, though many window films are also UV treated. Window films are purchased as large sheets, so you can cut them to fit any windowpane, regardless of the window style you have.
- Window cord retrofits
Window treatments with cords that hang down can be a silent threat in your home, as they can easily strangle your little one. To eliminate this hazard, you should consider replacing your corded window treatments with a cordless covering.
- The DIY option
If you like improvising, then this trick should help to childproof your windows. You can purchase a sheet of Lexan, cut it to fit the size of your window that you want to cover (usually the bottom half of the window), and then attach Velcro along the sides of the sheet and hooks to the window frame using glue. This will create a transparent, sturdy baby-proof window cover that still lets light through. You can also drill holes in the sheet for airflow.
The easiest way to stop your children from accessing an open window is by keeping all your windows locked. Many new windows come with permanent locks installed. So, if you have a child in the house, simply find where you placed the keys and start locking your windows.