The first week of April brings the arrival of spring. Spring is when everyone wants to throw open their windows and let in some fresh air. But it’s also a time when accidents and falls from windows are more likely to happen.

In 1997, the National Safety Council (N.S.C.) and the Window Safety Task Force established Window Safety Week, and so the first full week of April was chosen to focus upon reminding everyone about the importance of practicing safety around windows.

First, it is important to remind homeowners to never think of a window screen as a window safety device. Our dog, Brinny, reminded me of this one day when I opened up our patio door to let some fresh air into the house. Brinny saw a squirrel in the yard and bolted right through the screen like it wasn’t even there. I repaired it once but have since given up on the idea of owning a functioning patio door screen. As long as squirrels and bunnies exist, there will be no patio door screen in our house. So, we use the windows for fresh air.

Homeowners using their windows for fresh air need to be reminded to open windows that are away from where their young children are likely to be playing or to simply keep windows locked when young children are present. Toddlers are very inquisitive and love to climb and explore. They can climb onto furniture that is nearby a window or bounce on a bed that is adjacent to a window and before you know it, they can go out that window.

Once again, Brinny reminded me of such danger just last week. My wife and I love to take our two dogs on drives through Amish country. The dogs love to look out the window and see horses, cows, sheep and other wildlife in the country. I sometimes wind down the back windows about three quarters of the way so that each dog has a window to look out and smell the fresh country air. Every time we passed a horse drawn buggy, Brinny would stick her head out the window to see the horse. Well, after passing the third buggy, we realized that Brinny was no longer in the car. We pulled over quickly in a panic and a passing trucker pointed back in the direction from which we came. We did a 180 and found Brinny about a quarter mile behind us in a field sniffing for bunnies! She was unhurt, but this story could have had a very bad ending indeed!

One important thing that can be done for window safety is to offer your customers the option of installing a window opening control device (WOCD). WOCDs are mechanisms that limit the ability of an operable window to vent far enough for a person to fall out of the opening. While they must manage the opening height, WOCDs must also be easily disengaged to allow escape in an emergency. These devices must also self-engage after reclosing. WOCDs must meet ASTM F2090-10 Standard Specification for Window Fall Prevention Devices with Emergency Escape (Egress) Release Mechanisms when installed with supplied instructions.

Since WOCDs are not widely used where not mandated, educating your little ones is a must. Try to teach them from an early age about the importance of safety and the dangers of falling. The NSC provides a multitude of fun family resources like infographics and coloring books to make the topic of window safety both engaging and interactive. Encourage your customers to take advantage of these educational tools to teach the principles of safety to their youngsters.

As for Brinny, I installed a smart pet door opener called the Wayzn, which can open and close our patio door via my smartphone no matter where I happen to travel. And as for car rides in Amish country, no more open windows—period!

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