Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 5: Facilities, Supplies, Equipment, and Environmental Health

5.1 Overall Requirements

5.1.3 Openings Possibility of Exit from Windows

All windows in areas used by children under five years of age should be constructed, adapted, or adjusted to limit the exit opening accessible to children to less than four inches, or be otherwise protected with guards that prevent exit by a child, but that do not block outdoor light. Where such windows are required by building or fire codes to provide for emergency rescue and evacuation, the windows and guards, if provided, should be equipped to enable staff to release the guard and open the window fully when evacuation or rescue is required. Opportunities should be provided for staff to practice opening these windows, and such release should not require the use of tools or keys. Children should be given information about these windows, relevant safety rules, as well as what will happen if the windows need to be opened for an evacuation.
To prevent children from falling out of windows, standards from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the ASTM International (ASTM) require the opening size to be four inches to prevent the child from getting through or the head from being entrapped (1,2). Some children may be able to pass their body through a slightly larger opening but then get stuck and hang from the window opening with their head trapped inside. Caregivers/teachers must not depend on screens to keep children from falling out of windows. Windows to be used as fire exits must be immediately accessible. Staff should supervise children when they are near these windows, and incorporate safety information and relevant emergency procedures and drills into their day-to-day curriculum so that children will better understand the safety issues and what will happen if they need to leave the building through the windows.
“Screens” are intended to prevent flying insects from coming into the facility whereas window “guards” are the type of devices commonly used to provide building security and prevent intruders.
Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
  1. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). New standards for window guards to help protect children from fails. Release #00-126. Washington, DC: CPSC.
  2. ASTM International. ASTM F2090-08 Standard specification for window fall prevention devices with emergency escape (egress) release mechanisms. West Conshohocken, PA: ASTM.