It is the job of small children to test limits, and their parents’ job to keep them safe.
During a 7th floor renovation in a high-rise building in Cambridge, our client was concerned over the fascination their active 22-month-old had with the windows and railings. The child was fascinated with the four double sash horizontal sliding windows. Each had an A/C directly below the window, providing easy climbing access for a curious youngster. The windows had locks but no means of limiting the opening travel of either sash. The only barrier between the open sash and the parking lot below was an insect screen for half of the opening. The choice was between keeping the windows shut or risking the child’s safety.
While local building codes cover occupant safety, this common concern is not addressed, and we could not discover any ready made aftermarket fix. Our solution was to fabricate an adjustable two inch square wooden block. This was screwed to the inner lower track and sized to limit each sash to open only four inches. As the child matures, the block can be easily shortened and reinstalled to provide greater window opening, and ultimately removed when the child is grown. A simple, and effective, common sense solution.
A second concern was the openings in the existing terrace balcony railing. The railing stanchions acted as rungs on a ladder providing easy access to the openings for little feet and hands. To address this risk, we fabricated 3 lexan panels and attached them to the inside of the existing concrete terrace railing system. The lexan panels effectively close the openings and are close to invisible, so they do not clash visually with the other balcony railings below it in this high rise building.
The overall intent of local building code is to safeguard occupant safety, but it only goes so far. We try to look beyond compliance, to the specific needs of the occupants, especially when the occupants include small children.