Advocates For Child Safety Back Window Guard Law

Apr 9, 2013

A bill filed in the Massachusetts legislature is aimed at preventing a leading cause of injury to children, falls from windows.   The bill was endorsed by child safety advocates at a news conference in Springfield on Tuesday. 

A child safety advocate demonstrates how to install a window guard during a news conference at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield
Credit WAMC

The bill would instruct state housing officials to create a public education campaign about window safety. It would require a census of all public housing in Massachusetts to determine the number of apartments with children six years old and younger, and then as funding becomes available require the installation of window guards, according to the sponsor, Democratic State Representative John Scibak of South Hadley.

At  a news conference with child safety advocates  at the Baystate Medical Center in Springfield on Tuesday, Scibak said he does not foresee the window safety initiative in public housing being prohibitively expensive.

The bill does not put a mandate on landlords of private apartments or owners of single family houses.        

A pediatric trauma coordinator at Baystate Medical Center said that in the last five years 15 children have been treated at the hospital for injuries sustained in falls from windows.  A 2 ½ year old boy died in 2009 after falling from a third floor window in Springfield.   According to Safe Kids USA an estimated 4,700 children a year  are treated in emergency rooms after falling  out windows

Window guards, which cost between $35 and $50 are widely available at hardware stores, but are not widely used, according to the child safety advocates.  Lewis Howe of the Safety Institute, said for some the cost is an impediment.  He said landlords often object to the appearance of bars on the windows.

Howe said the city of Boston has required window guards in public housing for a decade and it has resulted in a dramatic reduction in the incidence of window falls.

New York City has a window guard law that applies to both public and private housing.

Mandi Summers, a coordinator with  Safe Kids of Western Massachusetts said the organization works through social service agencies to provide window guards to low income families.

An inspector with the Springfield Fire Department said the department endorses the use of window guards.  He said unlike security bars, the window guards are easily removable from the outside.