As summer approaches, are your windows kid-proof?

window safetyWe’re a little late in jumping on the National Window Safety week bandwagon – it runs from April 3 to 9 this year – but we’d maintain that window safety isn’t an issue that should be confined to a single week of the year. The National Safety Council says that “Window Safety Week coincides with the arrival of spring, when homeowners naturally want to open the windows and let in fresh air. Its goal is twofold: For families to understand the role of windows in escaping a fire or other emergency and to learn to safeguard against accidental window falls.”

Every room should have two ways to exit – usually, that is at least one door and one window. The National Safety Council offers these window safety tips as part of your escape plan.

  • Make sure windows are not nailed or painted shut
  • Do not install air conditioners in windows that may be needed for escape
  • Make sure at least one window in each bedroom meets escape and rescue requirements
  • Window guards, security bars, grilles or grates render windows useless in an emergency unless they have a release mechanism; update them if necessary
  • Develop an emergency escape plan and practice it during the day and at night
  • Keep emergency escape ladders in second- or third-story bedrooms and teach everyone in the home how to use them

If you have young children, you have another safety issue to consider. Every year, more than 3,300 children under the age of 5 fall from windows, suffering injuries serious enough to send them to the hospital; sadly, about eight children a year die from these falls.

The Window Safety Task Force offers these tips to protect children from window falls:

  • Avoid the placement of furniture near windows to prevent children from climbing
  • Do not rely on insect screens to prevent a window fall
  • Keep children’s play away from open windows and doors
  • Install building code-compliant devices designed to limit how far a window will open or window guards with release mechanisms to help prevent a fall
  • Teach your child how to safely use a window to escape during an emergency

Here are some additional tools:

Window Safety Brochure
Fire Escape and Window Safety: A Balanced Approach
Window Safety Checklist

National Window Safety Week: April 5-11

Sad childEvery year, more than 3,300 children under the age of 5 fall from windows, suffering injuries serious enough to send them to the hospital; sadly, about eight children a year die from these falls. To raise awareness about the risks, the National Safety Council, window and door industry professionals and other child safety advocates formed the Window Safety Task Force. Every year, the Task Force sponsors National Window Safety Week.

The most obvious risk is kids falling from windows that are unsecured. SafeKids has a good child fall prevention tip sheet. Screens are no help at all, they cannot break a fall. If windows will be open, install child-safe window guards. It’s important to know how to safely childproof windows. Child-safe window guards can help, but it’s important not to install anything that would be a hindrance to escape in case of a fire. Safety experts caution that there is a balance between the two needs: fire escape and fall prevention.

Another window hazard is related to window coverings. It’s important to child-proof these coverings to ensure there are no cords, chains or string that can strangle children. Learn what to guard against in the CPSC Safety Alert: Are Your Window Coverings Safe?

The National Safety Council has an excellent resources:
Window Safety Checklist
Window Safety Awareness Brochure
Window Safety Activity Book for Kids

Please share these tools with anyone you know who has babies or toddlers. Awareness also needs to spread beyond parents: all too often, accidents happen when someone who is less familiar with children fails to understand or guard against the risk.

Is Your Home’s Vinyl Siding Melting?

This is a guest post from Renaissance Alliance member agency Wolpert Insurance
So…your vinyl siding is melting, but the neighbor’s house isn’t on fire. What’s the deal? MAIA’s Tech Talk, author Irene Morrill, Vice President of Technical Affairs, discussed an “interesting property claim” involving vinyl siding in November 2010. Unfortunately, such claims have been reported right here in Worcester, as well as other neighboring towns and elsewhere in the country.
So, as you’re looking at the side of your house, scratching your head and wondering what happened, here are a few things to consider:
Your neighbor’s new energy-efficient windows; great for keeping their energy costs down, not so great at keeping your vinyl siding up. Although these windows do meet building code requirements,

“these windows can also warp inward and act like a magnifying glass, concentrating too much heat on nearby homes or business buildings”.

The heat which is caused by these windows can reach temperatures over 200 degrees Fahrenheit, causing the siding to melt. ‘Low E’ glass reflects 70% of the sun’s heat, which can easily melt vinyl siding when the distance between houses/buildings is 15 to 20 feet.
Another cause of melting vinyl siding can be neighboring roofs when the heat of dark roofs re-radiate, deforming adjacent siding.

The sun’s energy strikes the roof and the heat is re-radiated and absorbed by the siding, causing it to warp. This might happen when you have a sloping, dark-colored roof that intersects a vertical wall close to a window. In effect, the building could melt itself or a close neighboring premises.

Other variables that can contribute to distorting siding:

  • outdoor temps and wind speed
  • proximity of other heat sources, i.e. ac compressors
  • color and solar absorption of the siding (darker colors absorb more heat)
  • angle of the sun and orientation of the glass relative to the siding

Unfortunately, if your home/business insurance coverage is a “named peril policy”, such instances would not be covered.
If you have vinyl siding and are curious about other insurance options available to you, please contact Wolpert or your local Renaissance insurance agency.
Photo courtesy of Irene Morrill and Tech Talk, 2010
Double-pane windows can melt more than vinyl siding