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September 4, 2006 10:44 PM   Subscribe

How can I make a highrise safe for my child?

We're going to be moving to an apartment on the 12th storey of a highrise. I'm planning to put locks on all the windows and the balcony door so that nothing will open more than 4 cm (2"), the standard for window safety. However, I'm unsure whether I need to do more than this to make the windows safe.

My friend recently had a glass repairman at her condo. He said that, if little kids put their hands against the window glass, the seal will eventually break. If the seal breaks, the window can pop out, resulting in a window falling or a child falling. I don't know if this is true, but I have been having a hard time sleeping ever since. And Eric Clapton is in the back of my mind.

I don't intend for my child to play near the windows. I'm going to buy Guardian Angel window guards (link avoided) so that there is no way for my child to go out their bedroom window. The bedroom is really the only room with a window where my child would ever be when I'm not looking. (E.g. when I'm asleep.)

However, like most modern condos, this place has a few floor-to-ceiling windows. And it has some not quite floor-to-ceiling windows that a child could press their hands against when they look out. Is this incredibly dangerous? Should I put bars across all my windows? This sounds a bit ludicrous, but I want my home to be safe.

We are going to put a chime or alarm on the front door, so that, if our child opens it, we will be alerted. We'll also have a lock higher up, out of reach. But we'd do this in a house. In fact, I'd put window guards in the bedroom of a 2nd storey and I'd put window locks for 2" on all the windows for a house, too. I'm just not sure how much further to go.

No need to weigh in to say I should not live in a highrise with a child. I am only looking for information on making the apartment safe. I will share this info with the other downtown-dwelling families I know, as no one is quite sure what to do.
posted by acoutu to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
How old is your child?
posted by bshort at 10:52 PM on September 4, 2006


Sorry. Currently a year and a half old, but we intend to live in the highrise until he's more like five or seven. And he's a sneaky test-all-limits child who likes to climb.
posted by acoutu at 11:08 PM on September 4, 2006


"I'm planning to put locks on all the windows and the balcony door so that nothing will open more than 4 cm.(2")"

2" is extreme, (Canadian) code allows 4" as the maximum seperation between ballisters in a railing with the theory that a toddler won't be able to get enough of their body thru the railing to strangle when their head doesn't clear.

"My friend recently had a glass repairman at her condo. He said that, if little kids put their hands against the window glass, the seal will eventually break. If the seal breaks, the window can pop out, resulting in a window falling or a child falling. "

I could see a seal between two panes of a sealed unit failing from repeated impacts but that wouldn't cause the glass to fall out.[1] Most (all?) glass in windows is sized as to not be easily broken, even from full size people falling on it. It tends to make it difficult to rent/sell units if the building gets known for people falling out of their apartments. Most modern sealed glass units are replaceable from the interior as a precaution against thieves removing the glass to gain entrance so even if a window was to magically pop out it would fall into the dwelling not out. I don't know whether that is also the case in glass walled highrises.

Also a few quick google searches don't bring up any examples of a child being killed by falling out of a broken window. Open window yes, broken no. As long as your toddler isn't equipped with a glass cutter or spring punch you've got little to worry about.

[1] I could see a repairperson, especially one hired by a landlord, playing up the risk to the child to reduce maintence.
posted by Mitheral at 12:07 AM on September 5, 2006 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure about the seals breaking - maybe if the windows are really old. Seems like regular checks and maintenance of the seals would prevent this problem; maybe have a window repairman come into your home to do an inspection before you move in - this would surely ease your mind. And I assume the glass is tempered, for safety.

I found this site recently, when we were getting bids to replace floor to ceiling windows. It appears as if the best prevention is to keep furniture away from windows. And there are screens designed and tested to withstand 500 pounds of force from the inside of your home.

I don't think you're ludicrous at all - it's reasonable to want to make your living environment as safe as possible for your children. We have bars & alarms on our children's bedroom windows.
posted by LadyBonita at 12:23 AM on September 5, 2006


No need to weigh in to say I should not live in a highrise with a child.

People actually say this?

There is no safe, you can only mitigate risk; just look at the toaster question.

My friend recently had a glass repairman at her condo. He said that, if little kids put their hands against the window glass, the seal will eventually break. ... I don't know if this is true, but I have been having a hard time sleeping ever since.

I don't know.. I can be prone to bouts of worry over these things too, and I don't even have a child to amplify the anxiety. Fact is, everything breaks eventually; however, windows are made of durable stuff for just that reason.

It does seem like highrises have a unique set of child safety issues. I found Raising Children in a High-rise by googling (lots of promising results, google link not intended as criticism).
posted by Chuckles at 12:28 AM on September 5, 2006


The only way that I could see seals breaking and glass falling out of a windows is with the really old school style of glazed, single-pane windows where putty is used to seal the glass into the window frame. Unless the windows are that type, I wouldn't worry about it. If they are, definitely worry about it -- we used to destroy windows of that type constantly in my elementary school.
posted by SpecialK at 6:09 AM on September 5, 2006 [1 favorite]


Modern windows have hard frames on both sides of the glass, so they're basically impossible to push out. Older windows have nails driven sideways into the frame to hold the glass in, then putty to seal it up. It should be pretty obvious which type you have.

If it is the latter, the kid still needs to break the nails to get the glass out.
posted by cillit bang at 6:55 AM on September 5, 2006


cillit bang -- the metal-framed industrial style windows in my elementary school and my ex-girlfriend's 50's era high-rise only had spring mounted things holding the glass in, and the putty was the main retention device. That's why it was so easy for us to pop the pieces out. My elementary school had one half-crazed old codger on maintenance whose only job it was to replace the pieces of glass that we popped out. Don't want to start an argument here, but I do want to point out that just as the OP's friend's repair man could be perfectly correct. It's doubtful, though, if the condo/apartment has newer windows.
posted by SpecialK at 7:23 AM on September 5, 2006


Thanks. I'd actually already found the Ebony article on raising children in a highrise. It was interesting, although I'm not sure why they say I need to provide more structured play. Perhaps this is because a child can't just run outside to run a bike or kick a ball, but there are many kinds of housing (including houses) where that may not be impromptu.

The 4" provision is right. I use that now. But my son reaches up and puts things through the window, such as a Fisher Price corn popper. It can't go all the way through, but it's just a matter of time before he finds something. He is very curious and schemes a lot...even at this age. However, maybe I'll compromise at 3"!

The building itself is mid-90s upscale and has some floor to ceiling windows. None of those schoolhouse windows that broke so often when I was a kid. (How many kids put their hands through those? Yikes! It's a good thing I usually went home for lunch, or I'd have more memories of ambulances and blood.)

The glass guy at my friend's was hired by her. She lives in a strata condo, like me, except on the ground floor.
posted by acoutu at 9:47 AM on September 5, 2006


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