It’s the third week of spring, and summer is just around the corner. As the warmer weather arrives, many of us will start to open the windows to let a cool breeze in or just to let the fresh spring air into our homes. If you do, please remember that an unprotected window can be hazardous to children.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that approximately eight children (under the age of five) in the United States die each year from window falls and 3,300 require emergency room treatment. This number is even higher if you factor in the children over the age of five who are injured or die from window-related falls.
However, many of these accidents are preventable with properly installed window guards.
According to the New York City’s Window Guard Law, specifically, the NYC Health Code, Title 24, owners or landlords of buildings with three or more apartments are required to install window guards in apartments and common areas, if a child under the age of 11 resides in the apartment, or even if a tenant requests the window guards (without a child under the age of eleven residing in the apartment). The exception to this would be a window leading to a fire escape or a first-floor window that is required for egress from the apartment. As is obvious from the regulation itself, the purpose of its enactment was to prevent children from falling out of windows.
It is important to note that the owner or landlord of a building cannot refuse to install window guards. Further, the window guards must be installed in accordance with the specifications set forth by the NYC Health Code (24 RCNY Health Code Reg. §12–10 and 12-11), since an improperly installed window guard can also lead to accidents. For example, one of the requirements in the regulations is that there must be no more than 4 1/2 inches above or below the window guard. The full specifications for properly installed window guards can be found within the regulations. It is also the obligation of the owner or landlord to ascertain whether any children will be residing in the apartment at the time the lease is signed and on an annual basis. (§17-123(b) of the Administrative Code, Window Guards; Notification to Tenants).
What should you do if your landlord refuses to install window guards? Call 311 or go online to file a complaint.
Although the number of window-related falls has significantly decreased since New York City’s Window Guard Law was enacted in 1976 (217 window falls in 1976, down to 80 falls three years later and down to nine falls in 2003 ), the Department of Housing Preservation and Development still issued over 9,000 window guard violations for missing window guards from July 1, 2018, through March 31, 2019, and installed window guards in 1100 apartments under its Emergency Repair Program. This is alarming, considering window guards can save a child’s life and cost as low as $20-$30 per guard.
Tragically, in September 2019, a two-year-old boy reportedly sustained a fatal fall from a window in Brooklyn, which was unprotected. Simply put, one fatality alone is one too many, especially if it can be prevented, please spread awareness and help keep our precious little ones safe.
As someone who has handled cases involving children who suffered fatal falls from unprotected windows, I cannot stress enough the importance of this issue – no family should ever have to go through the tragedy of losing a child in a fall that could have been prevented.
In the unfortunate event of an accident involving an unprotected window, resulting in injuries or death, the responsible parties may be held liable for compensation to cover the damages, including pain and suffering and medical costs. The lawyers of the Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm have been representing clients who have been injured in accidents for over forty years. If you or a member of your family has been hurt in an accident, please call or contact us at 212-869-3500 for a free consultation.