Fenestration: Window Safety

Taking Steps to Ensure Window Safety Year-Round

by the American Architectural Manufacturers Association

Window Safety Week was in mid-April, and it was a great reminder to homeowners and building occupants of the importance of practicing window safety year-round.  It is promoted by the Window Safety Task Force, which is comprised of members representing the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA), the Window and Door Manufacturers Association, and the Screen Manufacturers Association, in cooperation with the National Association of Home Builders and other organizations, as well as manufacturers of windows, doors, and screen.  As the Window Safety Task Force stresses every year, open windows can be dangerous for young children who are not properly supervised.  Falls from a window can result in serious injury or death and pose an especially dangerous threat for children.  Every year, about eight children under age five die from falling out a window, and more than 3,300 are injured seriously enough to go to the hospital. 

         “It only takes seconds for a preventable window fall to occur,” said Becky Turpin, director of home and community safety at the National Safety Council.  “To avoid these needless tragedies, it is very important for parents and caregivers to take steps to prevent home falls.” 

         To protect children, the Window Safety Task Force offers the following tips: when young children are around, keep windows closed and locked; when opening a window for ventilation, use those located out of a child’s reach; avoid placing furniture near windows to prevent young children from climbing; don’t allow children to jump on beds or other furniture to help reduce potential falls; don’t rely on insect screens to prevent a window fall; supervise children to keep child’s play away from windows, balconies, or patio doors; install ASTM F2090-compliant devices designed to limit how far a window will open or window guards, with quick-release mechanisms in case of fire or other emergency, to help prevent a fall; and teach your child how to use a window safely to escape during an emergency, such as a fire.

         After a brutal winter, people long to open windows to let in fresh air.  That also means that the AAMA is hard at work honing building code proposals.  The AAMA’s commitment to window safety is at work year-round through its proactive support of building codes.  Window safety comes into play in a number of ways in today’s building codes.  For example, in the Seventh Edition, 2020 Florida Building Code (FBC) discussion now in progress, the AAMA opposes F7662.  That proposal would add an exception to eliminate the need for egress, also known as emergency escape and rescue, windows in the basements of buildings with sprinkler systems.  The AAMA opposes F7662 because people still need to get out of a building quickly in an emergency, and egress windows fulfill that essential need.  Plus, many types of emergencies don’t involve a fire, but do require an exit or entrance through a window to help protect lives, as in severe weather when door exits might be blocked.

         The AMAA is expressing its opposition to F7662, as part of the FBC process that takes place this year.  In International Code Council Group B proposals that will also be discussed this year, three separate proposals address clarifying the applicability of Window Opening Control Devices for replacement windows.  These include: IRC Appendix J, AJ102.4.4, IEBC Section 505.2, and IEBC Section 702.4.  These proposals make it clear that regardless of whether replacing the entire existing window, or the sash and glazed portion with an insert window where the existing frame remains, the window fall-prevention requirements apply in both applications.

         Windows are featured in residential and commercial structures.  They’re an essential part of our world, literally providing a window on the world.  That’s why Window Safety Week is observed the first full week of April of each year in the United States, to help people understand their role in window safety.  As longtime champions of window safety, the AAMA actively educates people about the need for window safety.  The AAMA’s support of building codes that reinforce its commitment to window and life safety are two more examples of how the AAMA brings window safety to life year-round. 

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