How Evan's Law Protects Kids

Two boys staring out a window to represent Evan's Law

Most of us don’t spend a lot of time thinking about window safety. But when there are young children around a home, safety issues adults take for granted can suddenly pose very real safety hazards. That’s why legislation enacted to protect children and bring awareness to these hazards is so important. In this post from Tim Gilpin Law Office, we’re taking a closer look at Evan’s Law and how it protects children from tragic accidents.

The Need for Window Safety

The death of a child is always tragic. But when that child’s death is preventable, it’s important to ensure that tragedy is never repeated – as with the tragic accident that took the life of Evan English in 2011. 

Just shy of his fifth birthday, Evan was a bright blue-eyed child who lived with his parents Jason and Ami English and three siblings. Described by his mom as a loving, intelligent, and sensitive child, Evan was already reading and learning second-grade math despite his young age. The family had only been living in Hawaii for a few months when they were offered a beautiful, brand-new home located in Honolulu’s military housing. They were enjoying a beautiful sunny day in their new home when Evan fell through an insect screen from a second-story window, fatally falling to the concrete below.

Although Evan would never realize his dream of growing up to be Superman, thanks to Evan’s Law, he has likely saved many children from preventable window accidents. Owing to their size and curiosity, children five years and younger are the age most commonly injured in window and balcony falls. 

Proposed in 2017 by Ohio Congressman Mike Turner, Evan’s Law changed the building codes on privatized military housing to prevent accidents like the one that took Evan’s life from hurting future children. In 2019, that law was expanded to require even stronger safety codes. At the same time, it created a Department of Defense grant for retrofitting homes already in existence. 

Preventing Child Window Falls

Although Evan’s Law provides important protections for families, it sadly only applies to military housing. And sadly, children in non-military homes and apartments are injured every day in the United States. According to Stanford Medicine Children’s Health, around 4,000 children are treated annually at emergency rooms after falling from windows, while more than 2.2 million children are treated for a wide range of fall-related injuries. As many as 12 children each year die from window falls. 

Whether you’re a parent or a property owner where children may play, here are some key steps you can take to keep kids safe:

Never rely on insect screens to prevent falls.

Insect screens are meant to keep bugs out, not to prevent egress. And in the event of a fire, that’s a good thing. But because insect screens are so easy to remove, they’ll pop out when very little pressure is applied – a serious hazard for curious kids. 

Install stops and guards.

If there’s a chance young children or pets will be in your space, window stops and guards are affordable and easy to install. 

Teach window safety. 

Talk to your kids about window safety from a young age. Older kids can be especially helpful when it comes to making sure their siblings remember the rules. 

Move furniture away from the window. 

Don’t make it easy for little ones to climb up to the window. Make sure there is nothing kids can climb on to reach the window latch and open it.

Keep dangerous areas off-limits. 

If your home or apartment has a second-story balcony, don’t allow your kids to play there. Instead, encourage kids by creating other safe spaces for them to play in. 

When Negligence Causes Injuries

One of the most difficult decisions Evan’s parents had to make was whether to pursue a lawsuit after their son’s negligence-related death. They decided to go ahead with a claim against the U.S. government and the contractor after they realized it could bring light to the seriousness of window fall negligence. 

The reality is that a wrongful death or negligent injury claim is often the only way to hold responsible parties accountable so it doesn’t happen to someone else in the future. If someone you love has been injured due to another party’s negligence, call Tim Gilpin and get a free consultation today.