NEW YORK CITY - August 14, 2007 -Open windows are one of summer's small pleasures, but for kids in a vertical city, they also pose hazards. In the hope of preventing needless falls, the Health Department reminds New Yorkers to make sure their window guards are firmly in place. "Properly installed window guards save lives," said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, New York City Health Commissioner. "Landlords and tenants must each do their part to make sure window guards are in place to keep kids safe."
City law requires apartment-building owners to install window guards approved by the Health Department in units housing children under 11. Likewise, anyone caring for kids 10 and under must inform the landlord and install approved window guards. Even if you don't have children living at home, it's a good idea to install window guards if children visit frequently.
Tenants whose landlords fail to provide window guards can call 311 to file a complaint. Landlords may also call 311 to report tenants who refuse to have approved window guards installed as required by law.
If children 10 years or younger live in your apartment, or if you provide child care services in your apartment, you must:
- Inform the landlord.
- Let the landlord come in to install approved window guards.
- Not remove window guards, even partially, once they are installed.
- Not make alterations to window guards.
Approved Window Guards and Proper Installation
Every window guard must have a Health Department approval number on the inside stile and must be appropriate for the window it occupies. For information on approved window guards, where to buy them and how to install them, New Yorkers can call 311 and ask for the Health Department's Window Falls Prevention Program.
The Health Department offers the following guidelines to determine if your approved window guards are properly installed:
- On regular "double-hung" windows (pictured right), two L-shaped stops should be screwed into the window's track one on each side to keep the bottom window from rising more than 4 ½ inches above the top bar of a window guard. If you don't have double-hung windows, you must use special window guards and approved stops.
- Whatever the window type, it should not have an unguarded opening of more than 4 ½ inches if the unit houses children. Approved limiting devices should be installed on any window for which a window guard is unavailable.
- The window guard must be installed tight on both sides with one-way or tamper-proof screws approved by the Health Department.
- A window guard installed in a rotting or insecure frame may fall out. Landlords must repair or replace the window and install approved window guards.
- If a window guard must be removed to install an air conditioning unit, the job should be done professionally. The air conditioner must be installed with one-way or tamper-proof screws, and the side panels should be made of metal or another solid, rigid material.
Additional recommendations to prevent window falls
- Check window guards periodically to assure they are still securely installed. If a window guard feels loose when you push or pull the bars, it could become detached or fall out when a child leans or climbs on it.
- Never let your child play on balconies, rooftops or fire escapes, near elevator shafts, or in hallways with windows that don't have approved window guards.
For more information about approved window guards, preventing window falls, or about your rights as a tenant, call 311 or visit http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/win/winbas1.shtml.