CALGARY – The City of Calgary is pleased to announce that due to recent advocacy work and a partnership with Pediatric Emergency Physicians at the Alberta Children’s Hospital, we anticipate changes will be made to the 2020 National Building Code. These changes will address the safety of second storey windows in homes, and protect children and the communities they live in.
“Every year across Canada, over 420 young children are treated in emergency departments because they have fallen out of second storey windows in their homes,” said City of Calgary Chief Building Official Marco Civitarese. “We felt that as a regulatory body responsible for the safety of buildings, addressing this issue was important and we wanted to make an impactful change.”
In 2014, The City began working with the National Research Council (NRC) to enact changes to the National Building Code with the aim of keeping children safe. In 2016, Dr. Michelle Simonelli joined the effort, lending her expertise as an Emergency Pediatrician and the Medical Director of Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program (CHIRPP) at Alberta Children’s Hospital. Dr. Simonelli was able to provide compelling data to show how prevalent and serious this issue is, and to help get these changes to the National Building Code made.
At the Alberta Children’s Hospital in 2016, 15 per cent of major trauma patients were children who fell out of the windows in their own homes. “These children were too young to understand the risks of playing by an unprotected window or pushing against window screens, which are not designed to keep them from falling through,” Simonelli said. “Supporting building code changes could prevent severe injuries in young children, including traumatic brain injuries; skull, cervical spine, facial and long bone fractures; and internal injuries such as splenic or liver lacerations.”
Currently, the National Building Code has no restrictions on how much a second storey window in a house can be opened, how far from the finished floor it is, or provisions for adding safety devices to restrict opening a window. The proposed changes state that the portion of a second storey window that is able to open must be at least three feet from the finished floor, or the window must have a device in place to permanently restrict the opening to no more than four inches.
“The changes to the code will have a positive impact across the country, so this is good news for not only Calgarians, but all Canadian families,” Civitarese said.
The City of Calgary’s recommended building code changes to second storey windows will go through a final review at the end of May.
The City reminds Calgarians to safeguard against window falls by:
- Installing a safety device such as a guard or limiter that restricts window opening to 4” (10 cm)
- Closing and locking windows with low sill heights when small children are in the house
- Moving all furniture away from windows.
- Remembering that screens are NOT safety devices. They are designed to keep bugs out, NOT to keep children in. They are not durable and can be removed easily.
For more information on how to prevent window falls visit calgary.ca/windowsafety