Tips for home window safety
Last updated: January 1
As summer transitions into fall, many of us take advantage of the pleasant weather by opening windows and letting in the cool breeze. And while windows allow us to enjoy the season’s lovely sunshine and temperatures, they’re also an essential component of our homes’ safety. Learn how to let the right things in — and keep the wrong ones out — with our home window safety checklist.
Keep kids and pets safe
Open windows can help keep a home cool, but they can also pose safety risks for children and animals. The National Safety Council (NSC), the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the American Architectural Manufacturer's Association (AAMA) suggest a series of tips for keeping kids and pets safe around open windows:
- Avoid placing furniture or any objects kids or pets can climb near open windows, says the AAMA.
- Don't rely on window screens to prevent kids or pets from falling, says the NSC. Window or sliding door screens are designed to keep pests out, not kids in.
- Keep windows closed and locked when kids are around. If you open a window for ventilation, choose one that is preferably out of children's reach, says the NSC.
- If you keep windows open often, the AAMA and the CSPC suggest installing building-code compliant devices to limit how far a window opens, thereby preventing falls. Window guards or window stops designed to limit windows from opening more than 4 inches are recommended by the CSPC.
- Limit and/or monitor children's and pets' play and activities near open windows or sliding doors, say the NSC and AAMA. Instruct kids on the dangers of open windows.
- Shrubs, soft edging or other appropriate landscaping around the outside of windows can help blunt the impact if a fall does occur, suggests the NSC.
Your family's emergency plan
Windows are often a part of many families' home emergency plans. In the event of a fire, earthquake or other catastrophe, windows are a frequent escape route, which means they should be easy to open and exit from safely, says the Window and Doors Manufacturer Association. The WDMA and the NSC offer the following information regarding windows as part of your family emergency plan:
- Identify escape routes, making note of which windows will be used as part of your family's emergency plan. Make sure these windows are free of clutter or objects that may impede family members form exiting through them, says the WDMA.
- Instruct all family members on how to safely open windows and operate locks or any related safety devices, the WDMA suggests.
- Speaking of locks or window guards, select products that comply with ASTM F2090 regulations to ensure they can easily be opened or removed in an emergency, says the WDMA. Locks or window guards that can't easily be opened may impede exiting during an emergency.
- The NSC cautions consumers to avoid nailing or painting windows shut — even rarely used ones. Avoid placing air conditioner units in windows that may need to be opened during an emergency.
Keep intruders out
Window safety also means devising strategies to keep intruders out. Keeping windows locked and secured is a sensible first step, but any locks, window guards or other safety devices should open from the inside, says WebMD, in order to enable your family to exit in the event of an emergency. Window alarms and impact-resistant glass films or screens can also help secure your windows without impeding emergency evacuations. Consumer Reports suggests keeping window areas brightly lit and trimming tree branches or other vegetation that might provide intruders with cover.
With a little care and planning, your family can safely enjoy open windows this season and year-round.