I was 12 years-old at the time. My parents were out of town for the day my 19 year-old sister was babysitting us But being the typical teenager, she locked herself in her room and was on the phone most of the time. I was reading and keeping an eye on my 3 year-old brother. He was looking out the window and “watching the birdies” which was a safe and tame activity for a rambunctious little boy.
And then, he wasn’t there. The screams were short to follow. I looked out the window, through the torn screen to see my little brother completely disoriented and hysterical. I ran to the intercom to call my sister, but she was so involved with her conversation that she ignored me. I ran outside to get my brother. Thankfully, a neighbor had just come home and saw what was going on. She came running with a towel and called an ambulance. We were very fortunate that it was a first floor window. He had hit his head on a rock and got a huge gash. Had the cut been any higher on his head or the fall any harder (from a higher floor), it would have been a lot worse.
Since then, window safety has been very near to my heart. I know that fatal window related injuries are, thankfully, not too common, but sever injuries are. Once my Joey was born and since then, as soon as we moved into each new location, we put in window guards as part of the babyproofing process.
Recently I’ve been hearing a lot of stories about people getting stuck in homes during a fire because they could not get out of the windows because there were safety bars. It bothered me enough that I went looking for solutions and guidelines. Apparently there are quite a number of window safety bars that are able to be opened in case of an emergency. This is accomplished in a variety of ways. Sometimes it’s a lever to pull, and sometimes it’s a handle. It may also come with a button to push or a pedal lever. There are other options as well.
Whichever you choose to go with, here are some basic guidelines for installation:
- Be sure to leave no more room than 4.5 inches from the top bar to the bottom of the frame around the window, and from the bottom bar to the windowsill
- Make sure that the screws are properly attached to ensure stability
- Use “L” shaped window stops (brackets) so that the window cannot be opened anymore to prevent a child from getting out over the bars
Which bars have you used, and which ones do you like best?