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Volume 7   Issue 3               March 2006

WDMA Opens Up


Window Safety Week
Promoting How to Stay Safe and Sound 
by Jeffrey Lowinski

Recent research shows that education and 
simple safety measures have lessened injuries 
and deaths from child falls from windows. 

Doors, windows and skylights are like fine music—beautiful accompaniments to the structure. But they do much more than simply look good. They let in light and circulate fresh air, foster a positive mental attitude and also play an important role in emergency exit and egress. 

They stand ready to allow occupants to get out safely in the event of a fire or other disaster and they do it passively, yet effectively. Like any part of the building envelope, there are “care” instructions that must be followed in order for them to perform to the application.

Window safety is an integral part of using these products properly. The public needs ongoing education about how windows can help them exit a structure. They also must take simple yet effective steps to prevent unnecessary falls. 

For example, keeping furniture away from windows to prevent children from climbing onto them and accidentally falling is one tip that works. Another is educating caregivers and others not to let children play and roughhouse in front of windows or other openings. Another simple step: put bushes or other natural obstructions under or near windows in case of accidental falls to lessen potential injuries. Keeping windows closed and locked is another suggestion; only windows a child cannot reach should be used for ventilation. There are also window guards that can be installed after market. These guards or fall prevention devices can be effective, but they must have a release mechanism so the window can still be opened for escape in a fire or other emergency. 

Window Safety Week

The Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA) continues its advocacy role in raising awareness about reducing child window falls and our efforts are paying off. Through the National Safety Council’s (NSC) Window Safety Task Force, in which WDMA participates, the industry has had a positive effect on this critical issue. 

April 23 through 29 is the national observance for the NSC’s annual Window Safety Week and it’s time to renew industry-wide efforts to educate. The industry’s efforts are ongoing, and manufacturers and distributors work year-round on getting the word out that windows are safe and effective tools for living.

Recent research shows that education and simple safety measures have lessened injuries and deaths from child falls from windows. This year, the task force will study the issue even further, researching specific child fall and residential fire data. The task force is working with the Consumer Product Safety Commission to refine the quality of data on child window falls as well as to work with key medical providers in select markets to improve the data gathered and identify potential contributing factors to these types of accidents. 

The NSC task force is cooperation in action. The task force also includes representatives from the Screen Manufacturers Association, National Fire Protection Association and the National Association of Home Builders, as well as others. In January, the task force participated in the International Builder’s Show, staffing a booth with true-to-life simulations of windows-in-action as exit devices and educational materials on safety. Participation in the National Window Safety Task Force is open to all interested parties. For more information, contact Michele Campbell, NSC division manager, 630/775-2128 or e-mail campbellm@nsc.org.

Windows fulfill a critical function in the event of a home fire. For that reason, residential building codes include strict requirements for minimum sizes of these designated openings, requiring that each sleeping room provide such an alternative means of escape or rescue. WDMA and others continue to promote that these requirements should remain in effect and that making higher sill heights would prevent safe egress and lessen the likelihood of falls. 
For more information on National Window Safety Week, or to download tips and other materials for customers as a public safety message, visit www.nsc.org.

Jeffrey F. Lowinski serves as acting president of the Window and Door Manufacturers Association based in Des Plaines, Ill. 


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