Window Screen Safety

Screens for windows, doors and porch/patio applications are designed primarily to keep insects out of homes. A typical screen is made from an aluminum frame and a fiberglass or aluminum screen mesh. While seemingly strong, kids and parents can develop a false sense of security that screens will stop children or adults from falls. This is true for all types of related screen fabrics, such as sun control screens, pet resistant type screens, or screens that are made heavier than industry standards and sold as superior, or heavy duty screens.

There are four main components of a typical screen. The frame (typically aluminum), the corners (plastic or aluminum), the spline (rubber material used to hold screen fabric in the frame), and the screen fabric itself. Some or all of these components may fail when subjected to pressure, such as when a child or adult falls against a screen. It does not matter how tight the screen spline is, or how tight the frame is installed in the window frame, it may fail.

Screen safety applies not only to window screens, but also door screens and porch/patio screens. All can present a false sense of security. This site examines these screen safety issues and brings the awareness level up for both parents and children. Please take a few moments to browse the additional screen safety information on this website, and to visit the resource links provided.

Window Safety Checklist

Has your family developed an emergency fire escape plan?

Determine your family's emergency escape plan and practice it regularly. In the plan, include two avenues of escape from every room. Remember children may have to rely on a window to escape a fire. Help them learn to safely use a window under these circumstances. Make sure you have identified a safe meeting place outside.

 

Do you keep windows shut when children are around?

You should keep your windows closed and locked when children are around. When opening windows for ventilation, open windows that children cannot reach. Also, set and enforce rules about keeping children's play away from windows and/or patio doors. Falling through the glass can be fatal or cause a serious injury.

Do you leave, or have you left, windows open because you thought the insect screen provided a safeguard from a fall?

Don't rely on insect screens to prevent a fall. Insect screens are designed to provide ventilation while keeping insects out; they are not designed to, nor will they prevent a child's fall from a window.

Is there furniture placed under or near windows in your home?

Keep furniture - or anything children can climb - away from windows. Children may use such objects as a climbing aid.

Do any windows in your home have guards, security bars, grilles or grates?

These windows are useless in an emergency if the devices on them do not have a functioning release mechanism. Time is critical when escaping a fire. Consult your local fire department or building code official to determine proper window guard placement.

Inspect your home's windows carefully. Are any windows in your home painted or nailed shut?

Never paint or nail windows shut. You must be able to open them to escape in an emergency.

Do you have any window unit air conditioners in bedroom windows or other windows in your home that may be needed for escape or rescue in an emergency?

Do not install window unit air conditioners in windows that may be needed for escape or rescue in an emergency. The air conditioning unit could block or impede escape through the window. Always be sure that you have at least one window in each sleeping and living area that meets escape and rescue requirements.

Did you know that strategic landscaping may lessen the extent of injury sustained in the event a fall does occur?

Plant shrubs and soft edging like wood chips or grass under windows to cushion potential falls. The surface can greatly affect the degree of injury sustained from a fall.

Window Safety Tips

  • Windows provide a secondary means of escape from a burning home. Determine your family's emergency escape plan and practice it. Remember that children may have to rely on a window to escape in a fire. Help them learn to safely use a window under these circumstances.
  • When performing spring repairs, make sure that your windows are not painted or nailed shut. You must be able to open them to escape in an emergency.
  • Keep your windows closed and locked when children are around. When opening windows for ventilation, open windows that a child cannot reach, or in the case of a double-hung window, open the top sash only.
  • Set and enforce rules about keeping children's play away from windows or patio doors. Falling through the 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.
  • If you have young children in your home and are considering installing window guards or window fall prevention devices, be aware that the window guards you install must have a release mechanism so that they can be opened for escape in a fire emergency. Consult your local fire department or building code official to determine proper window guard placement.
  • Some homes may have window guards, security bars, grilles or grates already covering their windows. Those windows are useless in an emergency if the devices on them do not have a functioning release mechanism. Time is critical when escaping a fire.
  • Do not install window air conditioners in windows that may be needed for escape or rescue in an emergency. The air conditioning unit could block or impede escape through the window. Always be sure that you have at least one window in each sleeping and living area that meets escape and rescue requirements.
  • The degree of injury sustained from a window fall can be affected by the surface on which the victim falls. Shrubs and soft edging like wood chips or grass beneath windows may lessen the impact if a fall does occur.