LA Fire Offers Window Safety Tips

Key points: Every family member should know how to operate the windows used for fire emergencies, and everyone should be able to get out through a window at all times without using tools, keys, special knowledge, or significant effort.

The Los Angeles Fire Department posted window safety tips July 19, urging residents to ensure they and family members are as safe against fires and falls as possible. LAFD's guidance notes that the National Safety Council and the National Fire Protection Association offer similar advice. Unattended children are at greatest risk of falling, according to the department's message.

Families should decide on at least two emergency escape routes from a home and should teach children how to escape safely through windows and practice this, because windows "provide one of the fastest, easiest alternative ways out of a burning residence," it says. Every family member should know how to operate the windows used for fire emergencies, and everyone should be able to get out through a window at all times without using tools, keys, special knowledge, or significant effort.

The message includes a reminder about burglar bars, grates, and window guards. "When youngsters are around, close and latch your windows. If you need ventilation, only open windows they cannot reach. Be sure to keep furniture -- or anything children can climb -- away from windows. And teach your children not to play near windows. And finally, never depend on insect screens to prevent falls. Insect screens are designed only to provide ventilation. They will not support the weight of a child or prevent their fall," it says.

It lists nine 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 household repairs, make sure windows are not painted or nailed shut. You must be able to open them to escape in an emergency.
  • Keep your windows closed and latched when children are around. When opening windows for ventilation, open windows that a child cannot reach.
  • 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 building code officials to determine proper window guard placement.
  • Some homes have window guards, security bars, grilles, or grates covering windows. Those windows can be useless in an emergency if they do not have a functioning release mechanism. Test them today because time is critical when escaping a fire.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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