by Angela Dickson

The fenestration industry keeps a keen focus on safety around windows – including safety on the plant floor by employees and safety on the jobsite by installers. But what about the safe use of these products by homeowners?

Windows serve an important role in our lives, by letting in natural light and fresh air when open, and by keeping out the elements when they’re closed. Emergency exit (egress) and rescue (ingress) windows take on an even greater role if people need to escape quickly in the event of a fire or other emergency, or if rescue workers need to enter in emergency situations.

With the arrival of warmer weather in spring, many homeowners begin to open windows for ventilation. They can be dangerous for young children who are not properly supervised. While the number of falls from windows is generally small compared with other recorded child injuries, a fall from a window can result in serious injury or even death. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, a global non-profit working to prevent childhood injury, approximately eight children under age five die from falling out windows and more than 3,300 are injured seriously enough to go to the hospital each year.

Window Safety Tips

To recognize the importance of fall prevention and window safety, the first full week of April (April 7-13 this year) is observed as Window Safety Week. The week is designed to heighten awareness of what parents and caregivers can do to keep their families safe from the risk of accidental falls or injuries through windows.

The National Safety Council and the Window Safety Task Force established Window Safety Week in 1997 to increase awareness among homeowners for what they can do to establish window safety and fall prevention. Arriving in the first full week of April, it coincides with the start of spring, when people tend to open windows for fresh air.

As a window company, it’s in your best interests to foster positive customer interactions with your products and to prevent accidents. The upcoming Window Safety Week provides an ideal platform for you to re-emphasize and re-educate customers about the best ways to use your company’s products to help keep families safe. This can be as simple as social media posts, samples of which are available for your company’s use.

Take this opportunity to remind customers that insect screens cannot prevent falls. They are designed to keep bugs out, not to hold a child’s weight to prevent them from falling. Therefore, children should not be left unattended around open windows, with or without an insect screen in place. For greater safety, windows within a child’s reach should remain closed and locked. These are just a few of the tips that can be shared with your customers.

Additionally, remind parents and caregivers to avoid placing furniture under windows. Young children can use furniture to climb to and potentially fall from an open window. A full list of tips can be found in an easy-to-understand (and easy-to-share) infographic at, which is available for use by all in the industry.

Window Opening Control Devices

An effective fall prevention measure would be to install window fall prevention devices, such as window opening control devices (WOCDs) or window guards. The Fenestration and Glazing Industry Alliance (FGIA) is working on a document specifically about WOCDs. The forthcoming AAMA/WDMA TB-01-24, Understanding Window Opening Control Devices (WOCDs) is a joint FGIA and Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA) technical bulletin and will be available soon.

It is advisable to check the hardware manufacturer’s product information to ensure such devices or guards comply with ASTM F2090, Standard Specification for Window Fall Prevention Devices with Emergency Escape (Egress) Release Mechanisms. ASTM F2090-compliant WOCDs and guards can help prevent a child’s fall by limiting how far the window can open. They are also equipped with release devices to allow for escape in case of a fire or other emergency.

Some homes may have window guards, security bars, grilles or grates already covering their windows. Those windows are useless for emergency escape and rescue if the devices on them do not have a functioning release mechanism that complies with ASTM F2090.

Entry doors serve as the primary exits from a home. But windows provide a secondary, alternate means of escape. Time is critical when escaping a fire or other emergency. It is important to educate homeowners about these devices to ensure they comply with industry standards and have appropriate release mechanisms.

Angela Dickson is marketing and communications director for the Fenestration and Glazing Industry Alliance (FGIA).

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