Will You Be Selling WOCDs on Your Windows?

John G. Swanson
September 23, 2009
THE TALK... | Materials & Components

Survey Results for 09/23/2009:

Will you be selling WOCDs on your windows?

I haven't heard much about them, so I would need to learn more.

  

 

42%

Yes, and I think they will be widely-used some day.

  

 

21%

Yes, but I think they will only see niche use.

  

 

21%

No, I don't think they will solve the problem.

  

 

16%

While the International Code Council may give WOCDs a boost, our poll results indicate that window and door manufacturers and dealers need to learn more about them before they start appearing on our industry's products. That shouldn't be too surprising. The actual specifications and requirements of such products are yet to be finalized.

In theory, a device that allows a window to be open for ventilation, but prevents a child from opening it too far, is great. The liability such a device may carry, however, does give pause to hardware and window manufacturers and sellers. There are doubts that a device can be both "child-proof" and still be easy to open for an adult in an emergency situation.

One response I received suggested that the industry stick with other solutions to the problem.  "To prevent children from falling from windows, I would like to say that the answer is with a screen not with addional hardware," one industry sales rep writes. He reports that a screen he has sold since 1993 prevents children and in some cases students from being able to push it out. "The screen looks and performs like an insect screen but will stay in place when 600 lbs of force is applied from the interior. On a hung window the screen can be raised and lowered but will not stay raised without someone holding it up," he notes. "We have sold thousands of these screens on public housing, apartments, and dorms around the country and once an owner has used them they allways want them on future projects. This is the direction to solve this problem."

It will be interesting to see how ICC proceeds when it starts work on the next edition of the building codes.  ICC has provided much of the impetus for the development of the WOCD concept as it as looked for ways to address the problem of child falls through open windows. The issue has been a thorny one for some time as safety advocates and the industry try to solve the safety equation and balance the competing issues of safe emergency egress and child fall prevention.  

WOCDs may be a solution, and the industry may one day embrace the idea, but it appears there are still questions out there.   

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