Window Guards Save Lives From Harlem To Hollis Queens And Beyond

April 2, 2024

Securely installed window guards save lives and city leaders are urging all building owners, homeowners, and tenants to help prevent falls.

In New York City, owners of buildings with three or more residential units are required to install approved window guards or limiting devices — which prevent windows from opening more than four-and-a-half inches — in any apartment where a child 10-years-old or younger lives. Approved window guards must be properly installed in all windows that are not emergency exits. Property owners must install windows guards upon tenant request, regardless of whether there are children in the apartment. Additionally, if there is at least one child aged 10 or under in the building, window guards are required in all public area windows. These measures are essential for preventing falls and safeguarding lives.

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

“A lightweight and easy-to-install piece of equipment is all it takes to save a small child’s life and keep your little ones safe,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan. “This simple public health intervention has saved lives and helped reduce window falls by over 90 percent over decades. Yet falls do still occur and they can be avoided. If you have a child 10 or younger and there are no window guards in your home, speak with your building owner as soon as possible so they can install the appropriate equipment.”

“With the weather getting warmer, windows across New York City will be opened to let in the fresh air and to install air conditioning units, making it essential for families to have window guards properly installed so children stay safe.  Unfortunately, every year, we tragically see incidents of children who fall out of open windows or those with air conditioners not properly installed.  As a parent, I know this is every parent’s worst nightmare.  So we want all New Yorkers to know that building owners have a responsibility to install window guards and parents have a right to insist on it for their children’s safety.  Now is the time to act,” said Administration for Children’s Services Commissioner Jess Dannhauser.

 “It’s often the simple investments in safety that are the most effective. Over the years, we’ve seen a decline in preventable falls—a clear indicator of the importance of properly installed window guards, especially in homes with children,” said HPD Commissioner Adolfo Carrión Jr. “With warmer days ahead, we urge landlords to prioritize this safety measure. Parents, if you encounter any challenges, don’t hesitate to contact 311. Our dedicated HPD inspectors are here to ensure your homes remain safe for your loved ones.”

New York City was the first U.S. city to adopt a window guard policy, in 1976. Before the law was passed, some years saw more than 100 falls, some fatal, occur each year. In the last 20 years, that number has been drastically lower.

In 2023, of  nine window falls, five occurred due to improperly installed window guards, and  four occurred because of improper window air conditioning (AC) unit installation. Falls are preventable. Owners must comply with window guard requirements and tenants must let the building owner know when a child aged 10 or younger lives or is cared for in the apartment.

Condominium owners should check with building management to determine who needs to install and repair window guards in their apartments. Maintaining hallway windows in condominium buildings is the management’s responsibility. In co-op buildings, building management needs to install and maintain all window guards and limiting devices. One-and two-family homes are not legally required to have window guards, but installation is recommended anywhere there are young children.

In windows with air conditions, building owners should permanently install window AC units using one-way tamper-resistant screws in apartments where a child aged 10 or younger lives. The AC should be permanently and securely bolted into the window frame without leaving any open space greater than four-and-a-half inches. Rigid material should be used on all sides of AC units to prevent any accidents from occurring. For tenants considering the installation of their own air conditioning units, it’s important to exercise caution. While not recommended, if pursued, carefully review instructions, use proper hardware, and follow legal regulations. Contacting the landlord for professional installation is encouraged to ensure safety and compliance.

In dwelling units with children 10 years old or younger, tenants must:

  • Inform the building owner by completing the annual notice provided by the landlord that a child 10 or under lives in an apartment.  Once the building owner is informed, the tenant should:
  • 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 alter or remove window guards or limiting devices once they are installed.
  • Never leave a child alone in a room where there are open windows until window guards or limiting devices are properly installed.

The Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) responds to complaints to checks for window guards during housing maintenance code inspections and issues violations when window guards are improperly installed or missing. In addition, HPD’s Emergency Repair Program arranges for the installation or repair of window guards when property owners fail to do so in order to keep children safe. Between July 1, 2022 and June 30, 2023, HPD received almost 2,700 complaints for window guards and issued more than 7,000 violations requiring the installation or repair of window guards.

If a building owner refuses to install window guards, or if building owners encounter a tenant who refuses to allow widow guards to be installed, they should call 311.

For information about window guards, visit and search for window guards. You can also email the Health Department at

Photo credit: !0 HWM. 2)

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