Windows in the home have many uses, from ventilation and lighting to decoration or as an emergency escape route.
The week of April 5-11 is National Window Safety Week sponsored by the National Safety Council.
Windows provide a secondary means of escape from a burning home. Determine your family's emergency escape plan and practice it. Children as young as 2 years of age love to practice a fire drill. Practice will prevent chaos and possibly save lives. I suggest that you teach your children to exit the home in the event of a fire and meet outside at your designated meeting place such as a favorite neighbor's front porch, not in front of your home as you will be in the way of emergency vehicles.
Children may have to rely on a window to escape in a fire. Help them learn to safely use a window under these circumstances. For multi-story homes I recommend a fire escape ladder. These are portable, compact and can save lives. The very popular infant sling is ideal to keep with the ladder so you can carry your baby down the ladder and have your hands free.
When performing repairs, make sure that your windows are not painted or nailed shut. You must be able to open them to escape in an emergency.
Set and enforce rules about keeping children's play away from windows or patio doors. Falling through the glass can be fatal or cause serious injury.
Keep furniture or anything children can ascend away from windows as children may use such objects as a climbing aid.
With small children in the home consider installing a window fall prevention device that has a release mechanism so that they can be opened as an escape, as time is critical when escaping a fire.
Keep your windows closed and locked when children are around. When opening windows for ventilation, open windows that a child cannot reach. Never depend on the screen to prevent your child from falling out of the window. Screens are intended to keep insects out, not children in. Unguarded windows opened only 5 inches pose a danger to children less than 10 years of age. I suggest a window lock set at 4 inches or less to prevent a child from crawling through and yet this will assist with ventilation.
Fire escape ladders, smoke detectors, window locks, window guards and installation are available from InfantHouse.com.
Jack Smith is the CEO of InfantHouse.com, a baby proofing company serving the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas area. He is the Daddy of boy/girl twins, affiliated with the International Association for Child Safety and contributing author of Chaos 2 Calm the moms-of-multiples ™ guide to an organized family .