Every year, roughly 2.5 million children are treated in the United States for fall-related injuries. Of these, falls from windows tend to be the most serious and fatal, especially among male toddlers. Older children are more likely to be seriously injured by window falls as summer approaches and they spend more time around the home. This problem is heightened by the fact that windows are left open for ventilation more often during the summer months than the rest of the year. Green America Home Inspectors are ready to field questions from concerned clients, especially those with small children, about the dangers posed by falls from windows.

The following are window safety tips that we’re happy to pass on to our clients:

  • When ventilation is not needed, windows should be closed and locked.
  • Windows can be equipped with window guards to prevent children from falling out.  Window guards should include a quick-release mechanism to allow for a rapid exit in the case of an emergency.
  • Furniture that children can climb, such as dressers, beds and toy chests, should be kept away from windows.
  • Window screens are designed to keep insects outside of a house and should not be relied upon to keep children from falling out of windows.
  • Shrubs, wood chips, grass or other soft surfaces may be strategically placed beneath windows in order to lessen the degree of injury sustained from falls.
  • Children’s play areas should be kept away from open windows.
  • If possible, ventilation should come from the upper sash of a double-hung window rather than the lower sash, which may be more accessible to a child.
  • Windows that are low to the floor may be particularly easy for young children to operate. Our inspectors may point out low windows so the client understands their danger. The windows in the photo are low enough to be easily accessed by a small child.

In summary, our inspectors protect our clients from window falls by offering them some basic facts about window safety. While these tips concern falls from windows, they do not necessarily address dangers posed by broken window glass, which are covered in our article, “Safety Glass for Homeowners.”