New laws help keep your children safer but are not foolproof
On average, one child a week is hospitalised in Australia after falling from a window or balcony. Eighty per cent of them have suffered a serious injury.
New child safety laws that come into effect in May 2013, will ensure that all new homes with opening windows more than two meters above the external ground level will be equipped with window locks that prevent the window from opening more than 12.5 cm – or with reinforced screens strong enough to prevent a child falling through.
Davcon General Manager, Cassandra Lehmann, has welcomed the new regulations from the Australian Building Codes Board. They were originally to have come into effect in 2012 but were postponed for a year to allow the industry more time to prepare.
Existing homes not affected
“But the legislation does not apply to existing homes,” warns Cassandra. “I’d like to think all home and apartment owners would consider installing this level of protection. It’s like owning a swimming pool. Once the research is done and society becomes aware of the risks to children, you’d hope families would act to minimise the risks within existing homes.”
Cassandra believes it is inevitable that the rules will at some time be extended to all homes, as happened in relation to pool fencing.
The new regulations have not changed the minimum floor to sill height of 865 mm or regulations regarding keeping climbable objects a safe distance from windows, balustrades or barriers. Cassandra finds it amazing that some people still think a simple fly screen is sufficient to prevent a child from falling out of a window. “It’s been proven time and again that they are not a suitable barrier, while some of the cheaper security screens on the market are little better,” she says.
Locks not the answer
She’s also concerned that keeping windows locked is not an easy safety measure to implement as it requires constant vigilance on the part of homeowners. “During the Queensland summer we need to keep our windows as wide open as possible and how are grandparents going to remember to close and lock their windows every time they babysit? For that matter, can you see parents with restless children unable to sleep on a hot summer’s night not opening the window fully to let in every bit of cool air available?”
Cassandra says Crimsafe® security screens are the best option available. Not only do they provide protection against children falling through (tests have shown them to be five times stronger than required by the new laws), but they enable homeowners to fully open the windows to allow in the breeze while knowing that the house is still secure, even if they’re not at home.