Administration for Children's Services311Search all websites

Window Guard Safety

Each year, young children are injured or die in falls from unguarded windows, even from the first floor. These tragedies are preventable with properly installed and approved window guards, which are required in many residential buildings.

In 2019, 11 children, ages 10 and younger, fell from windows in New York City; four of these falls were fatal. Of these 11 falls, seven (resulting in three injuries and four deaths) occurred in buildings with three or more units – where, under city law, building owners are required to install approved window guards in any apartment where a child 10 years of age or younger is cared for or lives. These falls could have been prevented if the required window guards had been properly installed. The remaining four falls (resulting in injuries) occurred in one- and two-family homes. While these private homes are not covered under city law, the falls may have been prevented by window guards.

You must have window guards if you live in a building that has at least three apartments and a child 10 or younger lives in your apartment. If you do not have window guards, ask your landlord to install them. If the landlord doesn’t fix the problem, file a complaint online or call 311.

Never leave a child alone in a room where there are open windows that do not have window guards. If window guards are not installed, keep windows closed and make sure children cannot climb up to them. Screens are not a substitute for window guards. Even if you do not have a child 10 or younger who lives with you, you can still get window guards installed in your windows.

If a window has an air conditioner, it must be permanently and securely installed with one-way metal screws to prevent any falls. The law does not allow tenants to remove window guards to install air conditioners. You can request the building owner to install your air conditioner unit and window guards in your home.

Approved Window Guards and Proper Installation

In homes where window guards are needed, all window types, including sliding windows with screens, must have approved and properly installed window guards or limiting devices. All window guards and limiting devices must have a Health Department approval number on the inside side-rail and must be appropriate for the window it occupies. Any guard that has more than a 4½-inch space between the bottom bar and the windowsill or the top bar and the base of the raised window is not installed properly.

If a window has an air conditioner, it must be permanently installed with one-way metal screws, and any space that exceeds 4 ½ inches on either side of the air conditioner must be covered with rigid, secure panels.

Here are some guidelines for determining whether window guards are properly installed:

  • On double-hung windows, two L-shaped stops should be screwed into the upper window tracks — one on each side — to keep the bottom window from being opened more than 4½ inches above the top bar of a window guard.
  • The window guard or limiting device should allow no opening or space greater than 4½ inches on any window, including double hung, casement or sliders.
  • The window guard must be installed securely and be flush mounted to the window frame on both sides with one-way or tamper-proof screws approved by the Health Department.
  • The window guard must be installed in a sturdy window frame. See the Health Department’s web pages for comprehensive information about approved and properly installed window guards and limiting devices.

Enforcement of Window Guard Requirements

The Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) is responsible for enforcing the New York City Housing Maintenance Code and New York State Multiple Dwelling Law, including the window guard requirements. HPD responds to tenant complaints, performs inspections, and, where appropriate, writes violations of these codes, instructing landlords to correct the violation conditions.