July 23, 2008, – Open windows offer relief from the summer heat, but for kids in a vertical city, they also pose hazards. To prevent needless falls, the Health Department is urging New Yorkers to make sure their window guards are in place. City law requires apartment building owners to install window guards in units with children under age 11. Likewise, anyone caring for kids age 10 and under must inform the landlord and install approved window guards.
“Window guards prevent falls and protect children,” said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, New York City Health Commissioner – “But only if landlords and tenants are proactive about using them. Even if you don’t have children living at home, it’s a good idea to install window guards if children visit frequently.”
Five New York City children have fallen from windows in four boroughs since April. The children, all under the age of 5, survived with abrasions, bruises and some head injuries. But any of the falls could have been fatal – and any of them could have been prevented by a properly installed window guard.
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 11 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
- 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 children live in the unit. 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 insecure window frames 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 secure. If a window guard feels loose when you push or pull the bars, it could become detached or fall out if 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 do not 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/win.shtml.