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Keeping Your Child on the Safe Side of Windows

July 24, 2000

The Consumer Products Safety Commission estimates that each year about a dozen children 10 and younger are killed and more than 4,000 are treated at hospitals for injuries they suffer falling out of windows.

The commission knows of 120 such child deaths since 1990. Most of these deaths and injuries are to children younger than 5.

Guards can be easily installed in windows to prevent a child from falling out.

"Whether you live in a high-rise or a single-family home, a window guard can help prevent a tragedy," commission Chairman Ann Brown said in a prepared statement. 'Don't depend on a screen alone to keep children safe."

Guards screw into the sides of the window frame and have bars no more than 4 inches apart. They are sold in various sizes and adjust for width. Guards must meet requirements for spacing and strength, and those that allow for escape in case of emergencies must be difficult for young children to open.

Here are new federal guidelines:

* For windows on the sixth floor and below, install window guards that adults and older children can open easily in case of fire.

* For windows on the seventh floor and above, permanent window guards can be installed.

* Guards should be installed in bedrooms and other rooms where young children spend time.

* Or, install stops that permit windows to open no more than 4 inches.

* Never depend on screens to keep children from falling out of windows.

* Whenever possible, open windows from the top--not the bottom.

* Keep furniture away from windows to discourage children from climbing near windows.

Source: Consumer Products Safety Commission

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