There are few places safer than your own home – that’s what most of us would like to believe, at least. Unfortunately, though, hazards lurking in our houses can be overlooked quite easily. A staircase, for instance, can cause life-threatening slips, trips and falls if its banister isn’t properly attached. Stairs are hardly the only home hazard, though. Believe it or not, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission ranks windows among the top five hidden hazards in the average home.
While the news that windows are indeed dangerous might come as a surprise at first, it takes only a quick walk around the average home to see the risks. Defects are common, but they can often be rectified with the help of a professional contractor. If you’re concerned about the placement, materials, or usability of the windows in your home, consider the following tips:
Consider Location and Placement of Windows
The location of a window can dramatically change the atmosphere of a room. Consider the difference between a large bay window versus a small circular option. One will bathe the room in natural light, while the other offers a mere glimpse at the outside world. The amount of light in a room will vary tremendously based on the size and position of the window. Unfortunately, though, the location and placement of windows can also tempt little ones into risky behavior.
A floor to ceiling window overlooking the backyard pool may indeed give a playroom an airy feel, for instance, but it could also entice children to slip outside unattended. A double-hung window on the second floor may prove similarly tempting – the bottom portion is often the perfect height for children to push open. Even without little ones around, you’ll want to ensure your windows are appropriately placed with safe usage in mind.
Factor Windows into Landscaping Decisions
As you map out a master plan for your garden, keep window safety in mind. You’d be surprised at how much a bush or small shrub can break the fall of someone tumbling out of a window. While the person may still sustain serious injuries, the impact of their fall may be lessened with smart landscape design. Use wood chips, grass, or bushes under each of your home’s windows to add curb appeal while making your home a bit safer.
Think this strategy seems a little silly? According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 3,000 children are injured from falls out of windows each year. It’s a serious issue that demands to be taken seriously by homeowners with and without children.
Lock Windows, Never Nail Shut
Window locks are one of the most basic home security tools a homeowner can employ. Their benefits are threefold: window locks keep kids inside while shutting out burglars and drafts. The benefits are so obvious that many go too far in closing off their windows, opting to nail them shut instead of locking them. This is a serious threat to fire safety and should never be done.
The same goes for painting windows shut. Even if you don’t intend to ever open a window ever again, locking is the far safer route. Make sure each of your rooms includes a fully operational window for fire escape purposes.
Replace Corded Window Coverings
Looped window cords are a safety hazard hiding in plain sight. Kids and pets are drawn to these cords. Even when kept just out of reach, little ones have a way of grabbing onto them and becoming tangled. Supervision is important, but strangulation can occur in mere seconds. To best protect the pets and kids in your life, consider replacing your corded window coverings.
About eight children a year die after becoming tangled in window cords. Don’t delay in replacing window cords. The Window Covering Safety Council maintains a list of window covering products and retrofitting options for windows of all sizes, designs, and eras. Visit their website for more information on replacements.
Prevent Break-Ins with Double-Paned Glass
While it’s scary to think about the possibility of a break-in, burglaries can happen to any home at any time. Preventing criminals from entering your home is the best form of defense, and windows can either work for you or against you. By investing in double-paned glass, you’ll make it more difficult for burglars to smash open a window and enter the premises.
While hardly infallible, the glass will break with enough force, making it a good option for fire escape scenarios. Instead of eliminating the possibility of a burglar coming through the window altogether, double-paned glass makes the process much more difficult. When time is of the essence, many would-be burglars may decide to cut their losses and move on from your home.
Identifying Window Defects with ICA School
With the right training, spotting a home’s safety and window defects is easy. Whether you’re a first-time homeowner, an aspiring home inspector or a contractor who specializes in home building, ICA’s online home inspection training program is the ideal way to learn about the systems and structures that comprise the average house. Get started with our online training now by clicking here to sign up!