Warm Weather, Open Windows

With the arrival of warm weather in Boston, residents will be opening their windows to air out their homes and enjoy the pleasant breezes. In homes with young children, windows offer a temptation to explore the outside.

Guardian Angel window guard photo.jpg

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, about eight children under age 5 die each year in the United States from falling out a window, and more than 3,300 are injured seriously enough to go to a hospital emergency room. Children who fall from windows are likely to be boys under age 5, and they are twice as likely to die from fall-related injuries as girls.

For more than twenty-five years, Boston Building Resources and the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) have partnered to help local families protect their children from the risk of serious and fatal window falls. Aynsley Chaneco, program coordinator of the Injury Prevention Program at BPHC, confirms, “Window guards are the best way to prevent window falls by young children. Window screens are designed to keep bugs out and are not strong enough to prevent a window fall.”

BPHC, BBR, and window safety

During a six-month period in 1993, eighteen children in Boston fell from windows; three died. The Boston Public Health Commission responded by initiating its window safety program and partnered with Boston Building Resources to offer window guards at reduced prices. Through education, partnerships, and technology, the commission has reduced the risk of children falling from windows. In the past ten years, according to BPHC, two children in Boston fell from windows and none died. BPHC continues to expand its outreach through social media, health fairs, and flyers. The most recent brochure on window safety has been translated into seven languages to reach as many Boston residents as possible.

Window guards sizes and cost

BBR carries Guardian Angel window guards, available at a discount rate to Boston residents thanks to subsidies from the City of Boston, and offered at market prices to nonresident co-op members and the general public. The guards consist of steel bars with a maximum four-inch spacing, installed in the bottom half of a double-hung window. They are designed to withstand up to 150 pounds of pressure.

BBR carries three sizes of guards. Each guard is 21-1/8” high and widths are available in small (17”–23”), medium (23”–35”), and large (35”–58”). The small and large window guards are available in white, and the medium in black and white. Special orders can be placed with BBR for black window guards in the small and large sizes. In addition, special orders can be placed for extra-large guards if necessary.

All guards 21”-1/8” high.

Width Boston Residents General Public Members
Small: 17-23 inch windows (white) $23.50 $55.00 $50.00
Medium: 23-35 inch windows (white and black) $23.50 $55.00 $50.00
Large: 35-58 inch windows (white) $30.25 $70.00 $65.00

Boston homeowners and tenants need to provide proof of address, such as a license or utility bill, to qualify for the resident discount rate. Boston landlords wishing to install window guards throughout a building will need to provide an Erect Permit from the Inspectional Services Department to purchase them at the discount rate.

Installation tips

Instructions and materials for installation come with the window guards, and installation is simple, requiring a screwdriver. BBR staff can provide advice on selection and placement of a window guard depending on window type. Additional details on using window guards include the following:

  • Window guards are removable and have an emergency-release mechanism for easy removal in the event of a fire or emergency.

  • Guards are recommended for the second story and higher and for the first floor if the window is more than twelve feet above ground.

  • Any family, grandparents, or caregivers with children 10 years old and younger should have window guards in their homes.

  • Guards should be installed in children's and parents' bedrooms, as well as other rooms where children spend the most time.

Installation of a Guardian Angel window guard is demonstrated in this video:

Kathy Brown