Aesthetically, glass is great for homes and we are increasingly fitting floor-to-ceiling windows, conservatories, glass doors, side panels, sliding glass patio doors and glass shower cubicles to our homes. And let’s not forget the humble window, to be found throughout. Yet every year windows and glass doors cause about 400 injuries to children under 14.
So what precautions can we take to prevent injury from windows and glass doors?
Falling From Windows
Falls at home are very common but sadly, 10 children a year die as result of falling from a height such as a window, with many more suffering injuries. You can help to prevent this type of fall by:
- Moving beds, furniture and other potential ‘climbing frames’ away from windows.
- Fitting window locks or safety catches that restrict openings (for ventilation) to no more than 10cm.
- If windows don’t allow ventilation while locked, consider a window safety barrier.
Collisions and Cuts
Many accidents are down to children running into glass, simply because they haven’t spotted it (visiting children are prime candidates), or because they have forgotten it was there!
Ordinary glass is extremely dangerous because it breaks into jagged pieces that cause serious injuries. Safety glass is a legal requirement in new buildings, so if your property is older, consider replacing glass doors and panels with safety glass manufactured to BS 6206.
There are different categories of safety glass:
- Toughened Glass – this type of glass is toughened by a heat treatment. It disintegrates into small, granular pieces, which are not sharp, and reduces the risk of injury. Small pieces will still be dangerous to children so ensure they are kept away in the event of breakage.
- Laminated Glass – 2 or more sheets of ordinary glass attached together by a plastic interlayer. On impact any broken glass will remain attached to the plastic, reducing the risk of injury
- Wired Glass – which has a network or mesh of wires embedded in it.
An alternative, less expensive option is stick-on safety film, which helps prevent glass splintering.
Additional Safety Advice
Below are some further points to consider:
- Transfers or stickers can highlight dangerous glass areas to children.
- Children may trip on loose rugs or mats, so keep them away from glass doors and windows.
- Low-level glass areas can be screened with plants or furniture.
- When buying furniture with glass doors or tops, look for approval to BS 7376 and BS 7449.
- Keep glassed areas well lit.
If glass does get broken, clear it up immediately and dispose of it safely. Children can be extremely shocked if they witness a glass breakage of any sort, especially if they’re partly to blame, so keep calm, keep the child away, and stress the danger of glass.