Volume 46, Issue 4 - May 2007

Window Guy
A dealer’s perspective

I can’t imagine what it is like to lose a child. I’ve known people who have lost children, and their pain is inconceivable. 

There have been many instances where children have fallen out of apartment complex windows and perhaps the most famous incident was when Eric Clapton’s son, Conor, died. He fell on March 20, 1991, from a window in his mother’s New York City apartment.

I recalled the incident surrounding Conor Clapton’s death, as I was reading an article in the Daily Record and the Kansas City Daily News-Press. The article outlined legislation introduced by Minnesota state senator, Linda Berglin (D), known as “Laela’s Law,” that would require all screens in multiunit buildings, with two or more stories, have the ability to restrain a 30-pound child. 

If you are not familiar with this story, it’s about a horrible accident that occurred last June in Minnesota. Laela, who at the time of the story was two-years-old, climbed into a windowsill in her fourth floor apartment and fell to the concrete below. Miraculously, she not only survived, but is recovering quite well according to her grandmother. 

But not all children are as fortunate as Laela. 

The Screen Manufacturers Association (SMA) has done much to educate the public about the primary intent of screens through its “Kids Can’t Fly” program. SMA’s screen programs have gained national recognition in promoting the concept that screens are designed to provide homeowners with ventilation and insect protection, not to keep small children in.

Shock and Awe
Senator Berglin argues that we should kill two birds with one stone.

She says that existing bug screens are about $10, security screens are $60-$100, and that stronger screens are cheaper in the long run. “Most multi-unit buildings experience quite a lot of expenses for replacement screens … Because these security screens are so sturdy and durable, they won’t have to be replaced and will save money long term,” she says in the Daily Record and Kansas City Daily News-Press article. 

Screens on Steroids
In addition to Senator Berglin, the article also quotes experts that say parents shouldn’t rely on screens because they do not provide fall protection, since they’re designed for insects. 

Experts also recommend installing window guards and stops that only allow the window to open four inches. Yet with all this “expert” input, Berglin is not satisfied and continues her crusade in Minnesota. She’s also requesting the International Code Council (ICC) develop a code involving window-screen safety. Her tenacity is working, because she has convinced Tom Frost, senior vice president of the ICC, to admit that “kids falling out of windows is a recurring problem.” 

Drive the Available Buses
In Laela’s case, she lived with her grandmother in a 75-unit apartment complex named Many Rivers West. Jim Graham, planning and development director, says waiting until 2009 for a code change is too long. “We need change now,” he says in the Daily Record and Kansas City Daily News-Press article. “Mandating stronger security screens should be a no-brainer … we may even put them on the first floor. It just makes sense. It will prevent children from dying,” Graham says. 

So Jim, let me ask you one question? If you are so concerned about children dying, why are you waiting for the law to change before you replace the screens in your complex?

The most vivid picture I recall from the Katrina catastrophe was the picture of all those school buses that could have been used to help drive people to safety. Instead, someone sat back and waited for the government to think for those who were actually in a better position to make a decision. By then it was too late, and the government was blamed for not responding fast enough. I would suggest stepping up and being proactive instead of reactive.

I would argue that you can’t think of everything and you can’t legislate good old-fashioned common sense. 

by R. Mark Reasbeck, owner of Coyote Springs Window and Door of Las Vegas. Mr. Reasbeck’s opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those of this magazine.

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