See to Safety

See to Safety

Although it seems like yesterday for some of us, it was 22 years ago that Eric Clapton’s heart-wrenching song “Tears in Heaven” won three Grammy Awards, including Song of the Year and Record of the Year.

Written about the pain and loss that Clapton felt following the 1991 death of his four-year-old son, Conor, it was a private tragedy for a public figure – a tragedy that happens more commonly than people realize.

Conor fell 49 stories to his death after a housekeeper opened a window six feet high by four feet wide in the apartment where the boy was staying with his mother. Conor, who was not in the room during the cleaning, darted past the housekeeper and fell out of the window. The window, like many, did not have any protective devices despite a city regulation requiring window guards in apartments where children under 12 years of age lived.

Protecting Children from Window Falls

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), about eight children under age five die each year from falling out of a window and more than 3,300 children are injured seriously enough that they need to visit the hospital. Regardless of these troubling statistics, 70 percent of parents surveyed in the Safe Kids Worldwide 2015 Report to the Nation: Protecting Children in Your Home admitted that they had never used window guards or stops that prevent falls. Window guards screw into the side of a window frame, have bars no more than four inches apart and are easy to install. In fact, at the urging of the CPSC, the window industry developed safety standards ensuring that window guards were strong enough to prevent falls while remaining easy to open in case of a fire.

Window stops can be added to the window frame to prevent the window from opening more than four inches, and many new windows now come with window stops already installed.

Window safety also must take into account window blind cords. On average, one child a month is strangled by window blind cords. In the above mentioned survey, 73 percent of parents had heard of children strangling in window blind cords, but only 23 percent had made changes such as removing the cord or installing tension devices. In March, this national tragedy played out locally when a father on Ivy Brook Way went to wake his four-year-old daughter for church and found her strangled in the cords of a window blind.

If you have young children at home, consider following these safety guidelines:

  • For windows on the sixth floor and below, install window guards that can be opened easily in case of fire.
  • For windows on the seventh floor and above, install permanent window guards.
  • At a minimum, install guards or stops on windows in rooms where children spend a lot of time, such as bedrooms and playrooms.
  • For a double-hung window on an upper floor, open it from the top instead of the bottom.
  • Whenever possible, keep windows closed and locked when children are present.
  • Screens are not a substitute for window guards or stops – they are designed to keep insects from coming in, not to keep children from falling out.
  • Keep cords and strings out of reach of children.
  • Use cordless window coverings.
  • Keep furniture away from windows.
  • There is no substitute for adult supervision when it comes to window safety