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Legislature Considers Window Safety Bill

An exterior view of the Massachusetts State House in Boston

A bill filed in the Massachusetts legislature is aimed at preventing a leading cause of injury to children—falls from windows.  The bill was scheduled for a public hearing today before the legislature’s Committee on Housing.

The bill calls on the state to create a Window Falls Prevention Program. The program would offer education to the public about the dangers open windows can pose to young children and the importance of installing window guards.  

The legislation, co-sponsored by Democratic State Representatives John Scibak of South Hadley and Ben Swan of Springfield, also calls on local public housing authorities to purchase and install window guards in apartments where children ages 6 or younger live.

That requirement would be subject to available funding, according to Scibak, who first introduced the legislation two years ago.

" We are going to develop a strategy to get these guards in place," he said.

Scibak does not foresee the window safety initiative as being prohibitively expensive.

The bill would not put a mandate on privately- owned apartments or single family houses.

An estimated 4,700 children a year are treated in emergency rooms after falling out windows, according to Safe Kids USA.

Window guards, which cost $35-$50, are widely available at hardware stores, but are not widely used, according to child safety advocates.

"We encourage every family to invest in window guards for the safety of their children," said Lewis Howe, of the Safety Institute.  He said for some people the cost is an impediment and some landlords object to the appearance of bars on the windows.

" People just don't think about it. They think if they have their kids close by and they are watching them nothing bad can happen," said Howe.

Mandi Summers, a coordinator with Safe Kids of Western Massachusetts, said the organization works through social service agencies to provide window guards to low income families.

The city of Boston has required window guards in public housing for a decade. New York City has a window guard law that applies to both public and private housing.

Fire safety officials say window guards, unlike security bars, can be easily removed from the outside so firefighters can gain access to a room in the event of an emergency.

The record-setting tenure of Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno. The 2011 tornado and its recovery that remade the largest city in Western Massachusetts. The fallout from the deadly COVID outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers Home. Those are just a few of the thousands and thousands of stories WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill has covered for WAMC in his nearly 17 years with the station.
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