Screen Safety and Children
Have you thought of window screens as a safety issue? Screens for windows, doors and porch/patio applications are designed primarily to keep insects out of a home. A typical screen is made from an aluminum frame and a fiberglass or aluminum screen mesh. While seemingly strong, kids and parents can develop a false sense of security that screens will stop a child or adult from falls. This is true of all types of related screen fabrics, such as sun control screens, pet resistant type screens, or screens that are made heavier than industry standards and sold as superior, or heavy duty screens.
Screen safety applies not only to window screens, but also door screens and porch/patio screens. All can present this false sense of security. This site examines these screen safety issues and brings the awareness level up to both parents and kids. Please take a few moments to browse the additional screen safety information on this website, and to visit the resource links provided.
Window Screen Safety
There are four main components of a typical screen. The frame (typically aluminum), the corners (plastic or aluminum), the spline (rubber material used to hold screen fabric in the frame), and the screen fabric itself. Some or all of these components may fail when subjected to pressure, such as when a child or adult falls against a screen. It does not matter how tight the screen spline is, or how tight the frame is installed in the window frame, it may fail.
Window Safety Checklist
Has your family developed an emergency fire escape plan? Determine your family's emergency escape plan and practice it regularly. In the plan, include two avenues of escape from every room. Remember children may have to rely on a window to escape a fire. Help them learn to safely use a window under these circumstances. Make sure you have identified a safe meeting place outside.
DO YOU KEEP WINDOWS SHUT WHEN CHILDREN ARE AROUND? You should keep your windows closed and locked when children are around. When opening windows for ventilation, open windows that children cannot reach. Also, set and enforce rules about keeping children's play away from windows and/or patio doors. Falling through the glass can be fatal or cause a serious injury.
DO YOU LEAVE, OR HAVE YOU LEFT, WINDOWS OPEN BECAUSE YOU THOUGHT THE INSECT SCREEN PROVIDED A SAFEGUARD FROM A FALL?
Don't rely on insect screens to prevent a fall. Insect screens are designed to provide ventilation while keeping insects out; they are not designed to, nor will they prevent a child's fall from a window.
IS THERE FURNITURE PLACED UNDER OR NEAR WINDOWS IN YOUR HOME? o Keep furniture - or anything children can climb - away from windows. Children may use such objects as a climbing aid.
DO ANY WINDOWS IN YOUR HOME HAVE GUARDS, SECURITY BARS, GRILLES OR GRATES?
These windows are useless in an emergency if the devices on them do not have a functioning release mechanism. Time is critical when escaping a fire. Consult your local fire department or building code official to determine proper window guard placement.
INSPECT YOUR HOME'S WINDOWS CAREFULLY. ARE ANY WINDOWS IN YOUR HOME PAINTED OR NAILED SHUT? Never paint or nail windows shut. You must be able to open them to escape in an emergency.
DO YOU HAVE ANY WINDOW UNIT AIR CONDITIONERS IN BEDROOM WINDOWS OR OTHER WINDOWS IN YOUR HOME THAT MAY BE NEEDED FOR ESCAPE OR RESCUE IN AN EMERGENCY?
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.
DID YOU KNOW THAT STRATEGIC LANDSCAPING MAY LESSEN THE EXTENT OF INJURY SUSTAINED IN THE EVENT A FALL DOES OCCUR?
Plant shrubs and soft edging like wood chips or grass under windows to cushion potential falls. The surface can greatly affect the degree of injury sustained from a fall.
Door Screen Safety
Door screens will not prevent children or adults from falling, or keep children from pool areas. This includes retractable screens, swinging screen doors, security screen doors and sliding doors. This also includes doors with pet doors, pet guards or pet resistant screens. All of these products are designed to primarily keep insects out and some level of pet resistance, but should not be considered child safe.
Most screen doors feature latches. Latches are designed to keep the door closed in case of wind or pets pushing upon doors. Latches especially lower quality plastic latches used by some door manufacturers are poorly designed and even though they look “locked”, in reality they only “latch” the doors closed.
Sliding screen door latches can be bent inadvertently and become not useable. Many sliding screen doors can be lifted off latches, sometimes just by leaning against the doors. Lesser quality sliding screen doors may not stay on the screen door tracks and simply fall off. Sliding screen doors should not be used to keep children from pool areas. Pool covers and pool fences that are specially designed for child protection should be used for such applications.
The screen fabric on all types of doors could be too worn, have holes that could be enlarged, and the spline that holds the screen fabric to the door could be too small. When the spline is too small the screen can easily detach from the aluminum frame. All of these subjects could create unsafe situations
Porch/Patio Screen Safety
Screens that enclose a porch or patio are not designed to prevent children or adults from falling. Screens on decks or second stories need to have pickets on the bottom section to prevent children from falling through the screen. Local building ordinances will describe the requirements needed for these. Consider your porch or patio enclosure as an outdoor room for insect protection only. These should not be considered a child safe room that will keep children from falling or pool areas.
As with all of these screen related products, the screen fabric can degrade overtime by outdoor exposure and sun damage. The screen fabric may become brittle and weaken over time. It may look strong, but has no structure or protection from falls. Children should always be supervised in Porch or patio screen enclosures. Do not trust the screen fabric or screen doors latches to be secure enough to prevent a child from exiting.
Screen Safety Awareness is an important public awareness campaign by The Screenmobile Corporate and Screenmobile franchise locations. We are the nation’s leading window and door screen franchise with nearly 100 locations across the county. We do not claim to be window safety experts, we are striving to raise the awareness to this issue to parents and children. Screenmobile provides quality window and door screens to consumers, screen doors, retractable screen door, porch screen enclosure and security screen doors.