ICC Group Looking at Secondary Latches for Falls Prevention

What is the best way to reduce the likelihood of a child falling out of a window? This question has plagued our industry for a long time. Many possible solutions have been offered, including window guards, educating caregivers, security screens and minimum windowsill heights. Now a study group of the International Code Council’s code technology committee is considering a different approach.

“The ICC committee’s child window safety study group is considering developing code language that would require secondary latches on all operable windows in non-transient residential occupancies that are more than a certain height above exterior grade. These secondary latches would restrict the initial opening of a window to no more than 4 inches, but permit the window to be opened to a greater size when released. This alternative has received some level of acceptance in the past in some jurisdictions that require window guards.

The industry refers to these latches by a variety of names, including vent latches, night latches, sash limiters and restrictors. These devices would not meet the criteria of the 2006 International Residential Code as written, however, because the exception in the IRC for windows that do not open more than 4-inches specifies that the 4-inch dimension be achieved when the window is opened to its largest opened position, and releasing the latch would allow the 4-inch dimension to be exceeded.”

This news item was prepared by Julie Ruth, code consultant for the American Architectural Manufacturers Association. A more detailed discussion of the different approaches to window safety and falls prevention appears in her monthly column, Code Arena, in the June/July issue of Window & Door magazine.