The American Academy of Pediatrics published in 2011 one of the first studies ever done regarding window fall injuries. The results are scary. More than 98,400 children visited a doctor due to injuries from a window fall between 1990 and 2008. This means that more than 5000 children had to be taken to an emergency department every year due to the lack of child proof windows. About ¼ of those children had to be admitted to the hospital due to severe injuries.
Kids that are 0-4 years of age were much more likely to suffer from injuries due to the lack of baby proofing windows (about 65% of all injuries). The most common age group is 1-2-year-olds. Young babies usually suffer from severe injuries, head injuries, and even death much more than older kids.
Opening Windows Styles
It is very important to know what style windows are in your household before you consider any suggestions regarding baby proofing windows. These are the 4 most common styles:
- Casement windows – These are also known as French or crank windows, it depends on their hardware. In order to harness a breeze the sash (moveable panel) will swing inward or outward. There’s usually no screen involved with the “push-out” variety (however some models do have it).
- Hung windows – The sashes can be single-hung or double-hung and they slide vertically up and down.
- Awning windows – These are very similar to casement windows but they are placed on their side in order to allow the window to kick out thanks to the horizontal hinge. You have to be careful with these windows since some of them are built at the ground level which allows your child to access the glass.
- Slider windows – One of the panes is sometimes fixed with these windows and the sash always moves horizontally.
So, as you can tell, these are not child proof windows – at least they are not until you make them that way.
The first thing you have to think thoroughly is to think about how can a small child even access a window and get hurt in the first place. The kids are very curious and will use their skills to get where they want to go and nothing will stop them. Be sure that your little one is going to use anything that it can in order to get where it meant to go. Also, your kid will need to get to your windows, no matter what. This is simply due to the fact that a window will allow your child to enjoy the scenery of whatever is behind that window – and considering how babies are curious, the world beyond will be very interesting to any baby.
You will have to make sure that accessing windows is not easy for your child by eliminating any furniture that might be a stepping stone for your baby. Just do the simple thing and move away from that piece of furniture away from the window. If you want more security, consider using a safety gate to cordon off the entire space. These gates are very useful if you have windows that take up the entire wall, from floor to ceiling. You also have to make sure that the windows are locked. Add furniture in front of this kind of windows for extra security. However, the window doors won’t be functional if you do this, but adding extra security is better while your child is still young.
Don’t rely on your screens if you want to prevent a tumbling tot. These are just not able to support your baby’s weight and won’t provide enough security. So, what is the safest option in order to get child proof windows? Well, it is very simple – don’t open your windows at all! The world would be so simple if you could just simply lock every window, right?
This is, of course, not possible since you have to open some windows for cooling needs. However, make sure you lock all of the windows you are not using at the given moment. If it is possible, buy windows that have pre-installed locking hardware, these will make your life so much easier. On the other hand, just use windows that use keys to lock them. These are also exceptionally good and if it ever happens that you lose a key, just go to your local hardware shop and you should be able to get a new one really fast.
However, be sure that manually changing all of your windows will take up a lot of time. And, as you probably already know as a new parent, time is precious. This is why baby proofing windows are usually always a better option.
Window Proofing Items
This item is basically bars for your windows. You may be one of those parents that might think that this style of a window proofing item is like a baby jail but drop those thoughts. Window guards will provide you with a peaceful mind and your child will be well protected if you live on the 7th floor of a tall building.
Window guards are usually able to fit your window width thanks to the telescoping bar these products have. You are able to lock them in place afterwards by simply fixing the bar with screws. Consider checking if the product works with a wood, metal, or vinyl window frame.
Be aware of the fact that there are specific window guard styles that are approved in different areas. So, make sure you are aware of the styles you are allowed to use according to home builder’s regulations and building codes.
Another thing that is very important when it comes to window guard is the possibility of getting through these guards in the case of an emergency. This is very important no matter how trivial it may seem. First responders need to be sure that there’s a possibility of getting into your child’s room from the outside.
Make sure that the window guard is approved for use in a bedroom and check if it has an emergency release.
Supported windows styles:
- Single and Double-hung
This style is basically preventing a window from opening past a certain point, which is very useful with some child proof windows. The problem with these is that your window is going to have a very limited opening range, but these products are usually very discrete. The common rule of thumb you should follow is that you shouldn’t open the window for more than 4 inches. This is based on the dimensions of a baby that’s 5 months old.
The biggest problem with windows stoppers is that some restrictors that are considered to be more powerful are very hard to be found. You have to check your local hardware store, but you may not find it there. Also, they require installation with screws which is not optimal for some parents. It is important to note that another good place to check for better stoppers is the speciality hardware location. Just ask the employees in your local window company in order to get the location to it.
You need to double-check when buying a window stop if you use vinyl windows since some of them are not compatible.
Supported windows styles:
- Single and Double-hung
Shard-proof Window Films
Once a tempered glass gets broken it will fracture into countless little shards that will be everywhere around the area. Obviously, you don’t want your child to be around it since it will most definitely get hurt. Good baby proofing windows usually have a transparent window film applied on the outer layer of the glass. This will stop the shards from spreading and will stay on the glass itself. However, be sure that this will just contain the shards; it won’t prevent breaking or cracking the glass. Also, window films are usually UV treated which is another big plus for them.
These films are usually delivered as a large sheet and you will have to manually cut it to the specific size of your windows. However, this is not a hard thing to do since all you need is the measurements of your windows and a cutting tool.
Supported windows styles:
- Single and Double-hung
- Non-opening windows
Lock Your Windows
This is definitely the easiest route to go, and definitely the safest one. Especially if you just bought a new home with windows that get locked automatically when closed. Make sure you visit your local hardware store to get a sash lock if you don’t have the automated one. A simple lock is very useful and will help a lot with baby proofing windows.
Obviously, doing this requires you to keep the windows closed at all times. This is certainly not a good option for everyone (especially not for people who live on the west coast without AC).
Bear in mind that window accidents usually happen during summer and spring. Obviously, because windows are usually open during these periods for obvious reasons. You will have to change the strategy depending on your location and the season. The above-mentioned solutions may be a lot better options if you think that you have to open your windows from time to time.
Window cords usually seem harmless, and they are for the most part. However, they are a silent threat in the home. Your little one may suffocate on window cords that hang down. This happens very rarely, but there are reports of this happening. The best thing to do in order to eliminate this threat is to replace your window cords with cordless window coverings.
As already mentioned, make sure that your furniture is not close to your windows. The statistics show that more accidents happen if there is furniture close to windows since the babies can access window thorough furniture.
If you have crank-open windows make sure you remove the cranks. This will stop your little one from opening it.
Window alarms are also available for those parents who want to add extra insurance just in case. It is basically an alarm that will make a sound if a window gets opened, or if it is opened past a certain point. You will get immediately alerted if your child manages to open the window.
Things to Keep in Mind
Definitely, do not consider screens as child proof windows. The main purpose of screens is to keep the bugs out. They might help up to some point but their purpose is not to stop the babies from getting out, so don’t rely on them too much.
Statistics show that window-related injuries are much more likely to happen to boys. There are no formal explanations for this, but boys will be boys. Seems they always get into more trouble.
Make sure to check local ordinances in order to find out if your landlord is obligated to provide window guards if you’re living in an apartment.
Try researching public health departments in your area since they sometimes sell window guards at a discount. For example, some Boston facilities do this, so you can try it out.
Baby Planet Overview
There are way too many things that can be hazardous for little kids, and windows are one of them. As silly as it sounds windows cause too many injuries to babies. Some people consider installing window guards to be very annoying since your windows are not able to work properly. But, you will be sleeping much better when you’re sure you don’t have to worry about your child falling out a window. In addition, providing enough childproof elements in your house will most likely improve your child’s behavior and make it easier for you to discipline it in the future.
If you find installing window proofing elements on your own, don’t hesitate to contact a professional to get adequate help.