“If you are building a new home or development, you should be aware of new child safety laws coming into effect in May 2012,” advises Davcon’s GM, Cassandra Lehmann. “Any new home or apartment with windows or a balcony over two metres from the ground will have to have screens, locks or secure barriers over it to stop children from falling out.”
Child safety nightmare
Shockingly, on average one child a week in Australia falls from a window or balcony and is hospitalised as a result. According to the Westmead Children’s Hospital in New South Wales, four out of five children who fall from windows are under the age of five. Eighty percent of these children suffer significant injuries, notably head and brain injuries – and some don’t make it at all.
The changes being made to the National Construction Code by the Australian Building Codes Board will affect all balconies or windows more than two metres off the ground in new multi-storey homes or apartments and will include requirements that:
- All windows or balconies have either a barrier, lock or reinforced screen
- Any window lock must not allow the window to be opened more than 12.5cm
- Any reinforced screen must be of sufficient strength to prevent a child falling through
- No horizontal objects or structures (such as furniture) are allowed within 1.5m to 7.6m near a balcony balustrade or railing (to reduce the risk of children clambering up)
Child safety loopholes
“While I think that the child safety measures as outlined are a very good thing and highly necessary, I still think that parents should take stronger action,” advises Cassandra. She cautions that some child safety organisations have recommended that, for maximum protection, windows should ideally not open more than 10cm. In the case of a window lock or removable screen, the parent has to remember to implement and check these measures regularly, otherwise accidents will happen.
“Amazingly, some people are under the illusion the flyscreen will prevent their kids from falling through the window, which it won’t.” says Cassandra. “The reality is that even standard security mesh windows and doors will often not withstand a strong impact, so they give an illusion of safety where there isn’t one.” Cassandra would only go with one option and that is Crimsafe.
Child safe = Crimsafe
Crimsafe security screen windows have undergone rigorous testing for performance and safety standards and come out tops. Recently, scientists from the University of New South Wales at the Australian Defence Force Academy held a series of tests on Crimsafe products, including impact testing, to see how much force they could withstand before giving way. Amazingly, six supposedly ‘Crimsafe-similar’ products failed to demonstrate even the minimum level of impact resistance required to pass the Australian Standard. And scarily, this is only 100 joules – the force equivalent to a child falling against a security screen while running.
On the contrary, Crimsafe screens withstood 500 joules of energy, which is twice as strong as the recommended level of impact resistance and five times stronger than the current Australian standard.
Crimsafe child safety sense
“While the revised window and balcony child safety laws are currently only applicable to new buildings, I think it’s just a matter of time before they also affect existing homes,” says Cassandra. “While those without children may react unhappily to this, any parent of small children living in an elevated home knows the constant fear of their child falling out of a window.”
“The way I see it, first consider the benefits of installing Crimsafe security screens on your windows,” concludes Cassandra. “These are: the screens remain safely in place and cannot be removed; you can open your windows wide, night or day, without risk; you have maximum visibility, light and airflow and, most importantly, it is impossible for your child to fall through a Crimsafe screen. And then, you have to ask yourself: is not installing a Crimsafe screen worth your child’s life?”