Door Screen Safety

Door screens will not prevent children or adults from falling, or keep children from pool areas. This includes retractable screens, swinging screen doors, security screen doors and sliding doors. This also includes doors with pet doors, pet guards or pet resistant screens. All of these products are designed to primarily keep insects out and some level of pet resistance, but should not be considered child safe.

Most screen doors feature latches. Latches are designed to keep the door closed in case of wind or pets pushing upon doors. Latches especially lower quality plastic latches used by some door manufacturers are poorly designed and even though they look “locked”, in reality they only “latch” the doors closed.

Sliding screen door latches can be bent inadvertently and become not useable. Many sliding screen doors can be lifted off latches, sometimes just by leaning against the doors. Lesser quality sliding screen doors may not stay on the screen door tracks and simply fall off. Sliding screen doors should not be used to keep children from pool areas. Pool covers and pool fences that are specially designed for child protection should be used for such applications.

The screen fabric on all types of doors could be too worn, have holes that could be enlarged, and the spline that holds the screen fabric to the door could be too small. When the spline is too small the screen can easily detach from the aluminum frame. All of these subjects could create unsafe situations.

Keeping Kids Safe From Falls

Dangers that are obvious to adults are not necessarily that apparent to children. They need extra guidance and an ever-vigilant eye. By following these simple suggestions, you help make your home a safer and more secure place for everyone.
Falls from furniture

  • Don't leave babies alone on beds, changing tables, or sofas.
  • Always strap children into highchairs and strollers.

Falls from heights

  • Don't let children play alone on fire escapes, high porches or balconies.

Slips and falls from floor surfaces

  • Secure area rugs. Especially on wood, ceramic tile or linoleum floors, area rugs can cause anyone to slip. Secure them with a piece of foam carpet backing, double-sided tape or a rubber pad, available at many carpet and department stores.

Falls on the stairs

  • Keep stairs clear. Children spend as much time running up and down stairs as they do going in and out the back doors. As it is, stairs figure in a large percentage of home falls. Combine a child's boundless, yet reckless, energy with a staircase full of junk, and you could end up taking an emergency trip to the hospital.
  • Use safety gates if there are infants and toddlers in your home. At the top of the stairs, attach the gates to walls. Avoid accordion gates with large openings—as a child's neck may get trapped in it.

Window falls

  • Be aware of the danger of falls from windows by unsupervised young children.  Habitually keep your windows closed and locked especially when children are in the house. When opening windows for ventilation, open windows that a child cannot reach.
  • Set and enforce rules about keeping children's play areas away from windows or patio doors as falling through glass can be fatal or cause serious injury.
  • Keep furniture—or anything children can climb—away from windows. Children may use such objects as a climbing aid.
  • Never depend on an insect screen to keep your child from falling out of the window. Screens are intended to keep insects out, not children in.
  • Unguarded windows opened only five inches pose a danger to children under ten. In some cities, landlords are required by law to place window guards in apartments where children live; such guards prevent windows from being opened wide enough for a child to crawl through. Be sure to check with your local fire department and building code official to make sure guards or security bars you may intend to use comply with all applicable requirements.

In the bathroom

  • Always use a rubber mat or slip resistant stickers in the tub. Never leave a child unattended in the tub. Should they slip and fall, they may be unable to cry for help.

 

Danger Above: A Factsheet on High-Rise Safety

Recent fatal fires in high-rise structures have prompted Americans to rethink fire safety. A key to fire safety for those who live and work in these special structures is to practice specific high-rise fire safety and prevention behaviors.

Be Prepared for a High-Rise Fire Emergency

  • Never lock fire exits or doorways, halls or stairways. Fire doors provide a way out during the fire and slow the spread of fire and smoke. Never prop stairway or other fire doors open.
  • Learn your building evacuation plan. Make sure everyone knows what to do if the fire alarm sounds. Plan and practice your escape plan together.
  • Be sure your building manager posts evacuation plans in high traffic areas, such as lobbies.
  • Learn the sound of your building's fire alarm and post emergency numbers near all telephones.
  • Know who is responsible for maintaining the fire safety systems. Make sure nothing blocks these devices and promptly report any sign of damage or malfunction to the building management.

Do Not Panic in the Event of a High-Rise Fire Emergency

  • Do not assume anyone else has already called the fire department.
  • Immediately call your local emergency number. Early notification of the fire department is important. The dispatcher will ask questions regarding the emergency. Stay calm and give the dispatcher the information they request.

If the Door is Warm to the Touch

Before you try to leave your apartment or office, feel the door with the back of your hand. If the door feels warm to the touch, do not attempt to open it. Stay in your apartment or office.

  • Stuff the cracks around the door with towels, rags, bedding or tape and cover vents to keep smoke out.
  • If there is a phone in the room where you are trapped, call the fire department again to tell them exactly where you are located. Do this even if you can see fire apparatus on the street below.
  • Wait at a window and signal for help with a flashlight or by waving a sheet.
  • If possible, open the window at the top and bottom, but do not break it, you may need to close the window if smoke rushes in.
  • Be patient. Rescuing all the occupants of a high-rise building can take several hours.

If the Door is Not Warm to the Touch

  • If you do attempt to open the door, brace your body against the door while staying low to the floor and slowly open it a crack. What you are doing is checking for the presence of smoke or fire in the hallway.
  • If there is no smoke in the hallway or stairwells, follow your building's evacuation plan.
  • If you don't hear the building's fire alarm, pull the nearest fire alarm "pull station" while exiting the floor.
  • If you encounter smoke or flames on your way out, immediately return to your apartment or office.

After a High-Rise Fire Emergency

  • Once you are out of the building, STAY OUT! Do not go back inside for any reason.
  • Tell the fire department if you know of anyone trapped in the building.
  • If you don't hear the building's fire alarm, pull the nearest fire alarm "pull station" while exiting the floor.
  • Only enter when the fire department tells you it is safe to do so.

Maintain and Install Working Smoke Alarms

No matter where you live, always install smoke alarms on every level of your home. Test them monthly and change the batteries at least once a year. Remember, fire safety is your personal responsibility...Fire Stops With You!

Information reprinted from the United States Fire Administration. For additional information visit www.usfa.dhs.gov.