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New national building code requirements designed to prevent falls from windows

New national building code requirements designed to prevent falls from windows

CALGARY – The City of Calgary and Alberta Health Services have pushed for and succeeded in obtaining building code changes to better prevent falls from second-storey windows.

The changes to the National Building Code of Canada 2020 limit how much a window can open on the second storey of a newly-built single detached home. The Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes developed the change in response to a code change request from the City of Calgary.

“Limiting how far a window can open is one more tool that we have in our efforts to prevent these falls from happening. It is important to note that from what we see in the emergency room, window falls can happen anywhere and anytime, particularly at home. It is also important that caregivers have a look around their home and ensure that their space is safe,” said Alberta Children’s Hospital emergency physician Dr. Johnathan Guilfoyle in a statement.

Prior to the changes no restrictions existed for single-detached homes on how much a second-storey window could open or how close to the finished floor an openable window could be positioned. Guidelines didn’t exist for installing devices to permanently restrict window opening in single-detached homes.

“This change is another step forward for building safety in Canada. We’re pleased that the City of Calgary and Alberta Health Services initiated this change and it’s an example of the positive impact that participating in the code development process can have on Canadians coast-to-coast,” Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes chair Kevin Griffiths said.

Under the new code changes a single-detached home with an openable window that is six feet or more above ground must be installed at least three feet from the finished floor, be protected by a guard, or have a device in place to limit how much the window can open. 

“While these changes will ensure a safer future, the risk of falls remain very real, especially during spring and summer. Guards and window opening control device hardware are available, which are an easy way to restrict the opening of your existing second-storey windows and minimize the risk of accidental falls,” City of Calgary chief building official Ulrik Seward added.

The City of Calgary also has information on how to prevent window falls at Calgary.ca/windowsafety.

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