The Senate Armed Services Committee is demanding the military refurbish or replace windows in military housing to protect children from falling out of them.
Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono included two provisions in a draft of the 2022 National Defense Appropriations Act that build on Evan’s Law, a portion of the 2018 NDAA that required the military to install window safety devices in military housing units.
However, military planners, contractors and private companies that handle much of the military’s housing have argued over differing interpretations of the law.
The first provision Hirono introduced would direct the military to begin retrofitting existing homes with window safety devices upon enactment and would require the defense secretary to submit to Congress a plan to complete retrofitting or replacement of windows.
The second provision would clarify the definition of what constitutes a window fall protection device to exclude window opening control devices that can be disengaged, her office said Friday in a press release.
Young children are at a higher risk for falling out of screen windows in part because they like to climb. If they push on a screen window it can easily push out of the frame, and because their heads are heavier than the rest of their bodies they often have difficulty reacting when they begin to fall.
“By speeding the retrofitting of existing homes with window fall protection devices and ensuring the devices installed in homes meet the strictest safety standards, this legislation will protect thousands of children living in military housing both on and off base,” Hirono said in the press release. “As this year’s NDAA proceeds, I will work diligently to ensure these provisions are signed into law.”
The Senate Armed Services Committee approved the draft of the 2022 NDAA in a 23-3 vote. The legislation now goes to the full Senate for consideration.
The problem of children falling from windows isn’t limited to military housing, about 80 children in Hawaii fall out of windows each year, according to the Hawaii Department of Health.
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Kevin Knodell reported on the military and veterans for Civil Beat as a corps member for Report For America, a national nonprofit that places journalists in local newsrooms to cover underreported topics.