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Frequently Asked Questions about Window Guards

What is a window guard?
Window guards are metal or aluminum devices that are installed in the lower half of double-hung (vertically opening) windows. They are specifically designed and tested to prevent children from falling from a window, not to prevent burglary. Although keeping a child from falling through an open window is entirely preventable, a few children fall from windows every year. Tragically, some children die from these falls, while others are badly hurt. Even falling from a first-floor window can result in a child's death! Having an adult present in the room with the child is not an adequate safe guard. If the adult takes his eyes off the child for a moment it can happen, because it happens fast. It can happen to any child, even yours. Properly installed window guards (see Figure 1) can keep children from falling out of windows. Window guards save lives.


Figure 1: Double hung window with correctly installed window guard

Who needs to have window guards installed?
The law requires that window guards are installed:

  • if you live in a building that has three or more apartments and a child 10 and under lives in your apartment, even if you live on the first floor.
  • in every window in the apartment, except windows leading to fire escapes. In buildings with fire escapes, the window guard must be left off one window in each ground-floor apartment so that the window can be used as an emergency exit.
  • in all public hallway windows.

Even if you do not have a child 10 and under living with you, you still can have window guards if you want them. You might want them because children visit you, or you baby-sit. Or maybe you just feel safer with window guards. But, remember, if a child 10 and under lives with you, there is no choice-window guards must be installed. It's the law!

Are there different types of window guards?
There are many types of approved window guards. Approved window guards are a minimum of 15 inches tall with horizontal bars spaced so that a 5-inch ball (i.e., the size of a baby's head) cannot pass through (see Figure 1). The manufacturer's approval number must be imprinted on the window guard (e.g., HDWG # 03-77-15). This number must be listed on the "Approved List of Manufacturers and Model Numbers," distributed by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The list is available online at http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/downloads/pdf/win/winman.pdf.


Figure 2: Standard Window Guard

Window guards or any other type of limiting device must be appropriate for the type of window in which they are installed: double hung, casement, slider, etc. To find out what type of window guard or limiting device is appropriate for your home, call 311 or visit nyc.gov/health.

Why is it important to properly install window guards?
A window guard by itself will not always prevent falls. The L-shape (or other appropriate) stops - depending on the window - need to be in place to prevent a space large enough for a child's head to pass through. Window guards also must be installed with one way screws so they may not be removed. An improperly installed window guard is like having no window guard at all.

What are "L-shaped stops?"
On regular (double hung) windows, two L-shaped stops (see Figure 2) should be screwed into the window tracks - one on each side - with one-way screws (see Figures 2 and 3) to keep the bottom window from being opened too high. If the two L- shaped stops are not there, the window guard is not safe. It is against the law to take the L- shaped stops out.


Figure 3: L-shaped stop with one-way screw

Figure 4: One-way screw (close-up)

When the L-shaped stops are put in right and screwed in tight, there should be no more than 4 ½ inches of space above or below the window guard, even when the window is open all the way. There should be no space big enough for a baby's head to pass through. If a five-inch ball can fit through any window opening, then the window guard has not been put in right.

Who is responsible for installing and maintaining window guards?
Your building's owner or superintendent - not you - must install window guards in your apartment windows. Your building's owner or superintendent must also fix any window guards that need repair, and install window guards in all public hallway windows if a child 10 and under resides in the building.

Where can I get a window guard?
Inform your building's owner that you have a child 10 or under or that you would like window guard installed. If the building owner refuses to install window guards in your apartment, call the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Window Falls Prevention Program, which can be reached through 311.

How much does a window guard cost?
Approved window guards vary in size and shape. The New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal has established the following scale of a pass-along fee for rent controlled and rent stabilized apartments which may be imposed a month after the installation of window guards: a one time $10.00 per window guard maximum fee which may be pro-rated or amortized over a period of one year, two years, three years, in equal monthly payments according to the option elected by the tenant. If further information is needed regarding the charge of window guards, please call The New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal at 718-739-6400. However, they must be purchased, installed and maintained by your building's owner or superintendent.

What do I do if my landlord won't help me get a window guard?
Contact the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene or the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development through 311.

What else can I do to prevent window falls?
Never leave your child alone in a room where there are open windows that do not have window guards. If your window guards aren't installed yet, keep your bottom windows closed. Open only your top windows for fresh air. Furniture that children may climb on should not be near windows. Some babies can climb up on furniture and crawl through open windows even before they can walk. Never let your child play on fire escapes, roofs, in halls with windows that do not have window guards, near elevator shafts or near steps and stairs.

For more information about window guards and how to properly install them, call 311, the City's non-emergency information line, or visit nyc.gov/health.

Your apartment might not have a typical double hung window. If you have a different kind of window, special window guards and stops approved by the Health Department must be used.


Figure 5: Metal Limiting Block for use in Sliding Windows. NOTE: These metal limiting blocks must be installed in the upper and lower track of each operable panel. They must be installed with one-way screws.

What other types of window are there?
There are many different types of windows. One of the most common types of windows that may require an alternative device is a Casement window. (See Figure 6) For additional Information on Windows requiring alternative devices see 12-09: Procedures for Requesting Window Guard Variances


Figure 6: Windows requiring alternative devices when approved window guards cannot be installed.

For more information on Window Guards, call 311.

Last Updated: June 21, 2012