To Protect Children, Health Department and Department of Housing Preservation and Development Urge New Yorkers to Install Window Guards as Weather Gets Warmer

Properly installed window guards protect children from death and serious injuries

Last year, there were nine falls among children under 11; none were fatal

May 9, 2019 — The Health Department and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development today remind New Yorkers to properly install window guards ahead of the coming warm weather to prevent children from falling out of open windows. Last year there were nine falls from windows among New York City children under 11; none were fatal. City law requires the owner of any building with three or more units to properly install approved window guards in an apartment where a child under 11 lives or is cared for. Window guards are also recommended in any apartment that children regularly visit. Tenants are required to inform building owners if children reside in their homes. Of the nine falls, three could have been prevented if the required window guards had been properly installed. The remaining six falls occurred either from fire escapes in multiple dwellings or in one- and two-family homes. While these private homes are not covered under the City laws, the falls may have been prevented by window guards. It is recommended that all parents of young children living in private dwellings install window guards to increase child safety. For information about approved window guards and proper installation, visit

“While we welcome the arrival of warmer weather, unprotected open windows pose a serious risk to children,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “If you have a child under 11, make sure that you have a properly installed window guard in every window that is not an emergency exit; if window guards are missing, call 311. And for private homeowners, too, window guards save lives; a fall from a second-story window can be fatal.”

We must be vigilant about the wellbeing of all New York City kids year-round, and we can’t forget that in the warmer months window guards are key to home safety,” said Department of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Louise Caroll. “Our team of inspectors will continue to issue violations, and the agency will use every tool at our disposal to hold landlords who don’t comply with the law accountable. I thank Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for their partnership to help eliminate these risks for our children.”

The Window Guard Law requires that building owners with three or more units determine whether children under 11 live in the dwelling at the start of a new lease or when a lease is renewed. Building owners must send every tenant an annual notification form, so that any new need for a window guard can be identified. Tenants are required to fill out the notices accurately and return them to building management by February 15th of each year. Private homes are not covered by the Window Guard Law.

The law also requires building owners to install window guards in any apartment where the tenant requests them. Although not required in one- and two-family homes, the City strongly recommends that parents of young children install window guards in all windows not used as an emergency exit.

The Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) is responsible for enforcing the New York City Housing Maintenance Code and New York State Multiple Dwelling Law. HPD responds to tenant complaints, performs inspections, and, where appropriate, writes violations of these codes, instructing landlords to correct the violation conditions. Owners who fail to install proper window guards and receive a violation from HPD are required to comply and certify proper installation to HPD. If an owner or landlord fails to comply with a window guard violation, HPD will install them and bill the landlord for the cost of the work and applicable administrative fees. Between July 1, 2018, and March 31, 2019, HPD has issued more than 9,000 violations for missing window guards and installed window guards in over 1,200 apartments through its Emergency Repair Program.

In dwelling units with children under 11, tenants must:

  • Inform the building owner and/or complete the annual notice provided by the landlord.
  • Allow the building owner or a representative access to the apartment to install window guards or stopping devices that keep windows from opening more than 4½ inches.
  • Never remove window guards or stopping devices once they are installed.
  • Never alter or remove any part of a window guard or stopping device.

If a building owner refuses to install window guards, tenants should call 311 or go to to file a complaint with HPD. Building owners may also call 311 to report tenants who refuse to allow guards to be installed as required by law.

For information about approved window guards and proper installation visit

Approved Window Guards and Proper Installation
Every window guard must have a Health Department approval number on the inside side-rail and must be appropriate for the window it occupies. Approved guards do not have spaces large enough for a 5-inch object to pass through. Any guard that has more than a 4½-inch space between the bottom bar and the windowsill or the top bar and the base of the raised window is not installed properly.

Here are some guidelines you can use to determine whether your approved window guards are properly installed:

  • On “double-hung windows,” two L-shaped stops should be screwed into the upper window tracks — one on each side — to keep the bottom window from being opened more than 4½ inches above the top bar of a window guard.
  • There should be no opening or space greater than 4½ inches on any window, including double hung, casement or sliders. Approved limiting devices should be installed immediately on any window for which a window guard is unavailable.
  • The window guard must be installed securely and be flush mounted to the window frame on both sides with one-way or tamper-proof screws approved by the Health Department.
  • A window guard installed in a rotting or loose window frame may fall out. These windows should have limiting devices installed that will prevent the window from opening more than 4½ inches until a window guard can be securely installed in the frame.

Additional Recommendations to Prevent Window Falls

  • Carefully check window guards periodically to ensure that they are secure.
  • If a window has an air conditioner, it must be permanently installed with one-way metal screws. Spaces on either side of the air conditioner that are greater than 4½ inches must be covered by a rigid panel that can withstand 150 lbs. of pressure (instead of accordion panels) and “L” stops must be used to prevent any unguarded space above or below the air conditioner from exceeding 4½ inches.
  • Never place a bed, chair or other object onto which children can climb in front of a window.
  • Keep children off balconies and terraces if they are not being closely supervised by an adult by locking doors to those areas.
  • Never let children play near elevator shafts or on fire escapes, balconies, terraces or rooftops. Don’t let them play unsupervised in building hallways that have unguarded windows.
  • Call 311 to report unguarded hallway windows.
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    MEDIA CONTACT: Patrick Gallahue / Michael Lanza, (347) 396-4177