We all enjoy big, bright, beautiful windows in our homes. However, in a child’s room, those same windows we love can be a safety hazard.
The following article is an excerpt from my e-book Interior Design for Children: A Guide to Creating Thoughtful & Beautiful Spaces for Kids. The book is available on Amazon (for Kindle) and at Smashwords (all other formats.)
According to the United States Consumer Products Safety Commission (USCPSC), more than 3,000 children are injured or killed each year in the United States due to falls from windows. When the window is open, the insect screen is not enough to keep a child in the home when he or she leans on it. Keeping furniture away from windows is one way to avoid this type of accident in your home.
When arranging furniture for a child’s bedroom, be sure to keep it away from the windows when possible. A crib or bed, chair or bench placed in front of the window gives the child a perfect place to climb up for a peek through the glass. However, this furniture can also serve as a platform for a fall out of or through the windows.
Installing a window guard is another way to keep children safe at the window. A window guard is a metal grid or mesh that is screwed into the window frame. These guards are required in high-rise apartment buildings in some cities around the United States.
Some types of windows open from the top, as well as from the bottom. If your home has this type of window, use only the top portion of the window to let in fresh air. This action will help ensure that your child will remain safe at the windows of your home.
For homes with windows that slide open from the bottom, you can install a window stop. A window stop keeps the window from being opened more than a few inches, preventing parents and older children from leaving the window wide open.
Not only are the windows themselves a potential safety hazard, but the coverings on the windows can also be hazardous. An average of one child each month dies in the United States after becoming entangled in the cords of a blind or shade on their window, according to the USCPSC. Countless others are injured. Thankfully, this hazard is an easy one to eliminate completely.
When choosing window treatments for a child’s room, the safest option is one that has no visible lifting cords. There are numerous options available today with cordless lifting systems. Corded shades featuring a cord loop operation are also now required to have a “cord tensioner” which attaches the cord to the window frame or wall near the shade. The tension on the cord keeps children from becoming tangled in the cord loop. Other cords feature a break-away point that will give away when pressure is put on the cord. In this option, the cord will actually break off of the shade to keep a child from becoming entangled. The cord can easily be snapped back into place.
Parents and caregivers also need to be aware that the lifting cords are not the only potential hazard on window shades and blinds. In some cases, such as in wood blinds, aluminum blinds and vinyl blinds, the cords running through the center of the slats of the blinds can also pose a risk of strangulation. Roman shades often have exposed cords on the back of the shade; these cords can also put your child at risk. Check to be sure that the shade you are considering for your child’s room has been properly updated to include the proper child-safety features.