Windows: Security and Child Safety

Windows: Security and Child Safety

When it comes to windows, two of the most important aspects of design people tend to be after are – SECURITY and CHILD SAFETY


When it comes to security of a window, there are a few misconceptions;

1) It is assumed that if a window is externally beaded, it’s insecure.

2) All windows must have locking handles

3) Window openers with espag locks are fine to leave unattended in the slightly vented position

A Window Is Insecure If Externally Beaded

There are window salesmen out there, that will try to convince you that your older PVC windows are “just waiting to be broken into” because they are externally beaded. However, there are means of keeping glass held into the frame with outer beads – a wedge gasket and double sided/sponge tape.                                                      

Older windows are more likely to have an internal wedge gasket which is designed to push the glass away, towards the outside, pushing onto the bead. The outer bead is shaped so that with the force of the glass pushing against it, it becomes wedged behind a lip and will not move or be pried out.

It is possible for someone to pry the beads out but, it would require a quiet location and noise for distraction.

Sometimes there is no internal wedge gasket and instead a double sided tape or sponge tape is used as an alternative. In this case, the glass is literally stuck into the frame before the outer beads are snapped in.

The glass would have to be broken from the outside in order to gain entry, making this method equally as secure as internal beads.

Windows Must have Locking Handles

It doesn’t matter which type of handle/lock you have, whether it’s the more modern espagnoletter or the older style cockspur, so long as the sashes are fully closed and the handles are in the closed position, it wouldn’t make a difference from the outside whether the handle was locked with a key or not.

However there are three occasions when it’s advisable to lock handles:

Firstly, it is common for people to leave small fanlights ajar from air and in this scenario it would be wise to lock the lower sash, because a burglar could easily stretch their air inside the small opening and open the larger sash.

Secondly, it’s advisable to lock any large openings you may have in a location where burglars have easy access and exit from the building.

Finally, if you have young children safety is a major concern among parents, and restrictors are important to avoid any accidents of children falling out of windows; however, locking handles are not necessarily required on small fanlights.

A final note; make sure you always have your window key in a secure but, quickly accessible location in case of an emergence!

Window Openers with Espag locks are safe to leave unattended in a slightly vented position

Most modern windows have espagnolette locks (more specifically shootbolts) which are sashes with one handle and the lock located down the side of the sash. Moving parts will engage with the corresponding catches located on the frame. These catches are usually located where the locking pins or bolts can by fully closed or open ajar (roughly an inch).

Some manufactures will say that when a window is engaged in the vented position (with the handle locked) then it’s secure. However, this is not encouraged as it can be an invitation to a burglar, therefore make sure the window is fully shut before leaving the property.

Child Safety

The second most common requirement of a unit is that it is designed to prevent in particularly, children being able to exit the window.

Locking handles are usually the obvious choice but when it comes to child safety there are two better options – RESTRICTOR HINGES and SEPARATE HINGES

Restrictor Hinges:

Restrictor hinges are a neat method which has the advantage of incorporating the restriction into the hinge, thus reducing the need for additional parts. Furthermore, the hinges have the ability to override this element at the press of a button, allowing full opening when desired and for easy escape in the event of an emergency. However, this is not an easy task for young children.

Separate Restrictors:

There are various restrictors which can be added to an existing sash including external varieties, which come in metal or plastic. These however, have the disadvantage of being cumbersome to use and unsightly, but can be reasonable to purchase. The more attractive type are fitted internally, in the same track as the hinges but lower, and have the same style as a hinge. These are always metal, therefore stronger, and very unobtrusive. With various lengths available and depending on where the part is fitted in relation to the hinge, the width of the opening can be varied. The main disadvantage is that the restriction is permanent and cannot be released unless the part is unscrewed and removed.

Written by Samantha Swan (who works for the Double Glazing Doctor) © Double Glazing Doctor

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