Balconies & Windows

Risks to Small Children

October 15, 2012

Carriers have identified several issues of concern related to balconies and awning windows, in part based on recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics. The concern is the overall safety of residents and guests in the building when certain circumstances exist. The three most common scenarios are listed below. We recommend associations consider whether any of these scenarios apply to their properties. If they do, we recommend that an association’s board of directors review the risk exposure to their association and consider taking action to mitigate the risk. Addressing loss control issues can vary in cost, so it is vital boards review for these exposures and plan for the cost associated with addressing them. Some carriers recommend these situations be remedied as soon as possible, and are starting to issue non-renewals if an acceptable risk recommendation action plan is not in place.

Common balcony and window issues:

  • Awning windows at floor level. Many buildings, including newer construction, have awning windows at the floor level that open outward. If the opening is greater than 4 inches, small children can easily fall. Carriers recommend installing window stops that open no more than four inches to mitigate this risk.
  • Balconies with vertical railings greater than four inches apart. Many older buildings have vertical balcony railings with openings up to six or more inches apart. The risk is a small child being able to get through the railings and fall, or become lodged in the railing and left unsupervised for a prolonged period of time. Carriers now recommend openings no greater than 4 inches apart.
  • Balconies with horizontal railings (aka cable railings). Many buildings, including newer construction, have horizontal cable railings. The risk is a small child using the horizontal railings as a ladder and climbing over the balcony and falling. There are various options available for replacing the horizontal railings or installing a barrier.

For recommendations on how to PREVENT these risks, contact us