How are windows in care facilities handled?


I'm wondering how other facilities handle this safety issue. Are Windows locked in such a fashion that they can't be open in an emergency? Until recently, sliding windows at mom's facility were secured by an extra drill hole lock that could be removed with an inserted screw. Now, a screw has been drilled into the top frame and bottom lock has been permanently attached and can't be removed which prevents the window from being opened more than 4 inches. While maintenance has tools to remove these locks, it wouldn't be feasible in an emergency such as fire or earthquake.

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Open them anyway and watch everyone run!
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Second postscript

Now alarms have been added to the Windows such they can't even be opened a tiny crack for fresh air

They shampooed the carpets today and the room stinks like chemicals and now we can't open the bloody Windows at all to get some air - grrrrr
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I noticed tonight that the Windows have been changed back to their original thumbscrew locks

makes me feel better, but I wonder what prompted the change?
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Since I've been present during power outages there, I'd be hard pressed to rely upon staff in an emergency

They left one poor resident in the elevator trying to decide whether they should call the fire dept for fear they would break the door open and then they'd have no access to the upstairs
- They left the demented chap in there alone for 30-40 minutes while he banged on the door

Clearly, mom wouldn't be making any escape through the window at this point but doorways get jammed in earthquakes and I do have private aides overnight in the room

Since the sliding lock is sold at Home Depot I've decided to just buy one so I have the little hex tool and tape that and a screwdriver in mom's drawer and advise private aides it is there along with a little flashlight

I think this is a challenging problem for all facilities

In a private home, one might have breakaway security bars but then that wouldn't look nice, would it ?
Helpful Answer (1)

Hmm a large hammer comes to mind.
The truth is that most residents would be incapable of getting themselves out in an emergency even from a first floor room.
Most high rise buildings where the occupants are not compromised in any way do have non opening windows. The shooter in Las vagus actually had to break windows to comit his horrendous crime. I also wonder how the poor lost souls at the World Trade Center managed to jump from high floors.
I agree with MsMadge this is not an ideal situation but wonder how many lives would actually be lost with free access to open windows compared to the number who die because they can't be rescued.
An interesting problem. I wonder how I would have escaped from my fourth floor room in the hospital. No one showed me where the fire exit was plus I was not allowed out of bed alone (not that that would have stopped me)
Keep us updated MsMadge.
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Regulations are that the person to contact at the facility re: fire safety must be posted in several places. That person should be able to explain their rationale for screwing up the windows, as opposed to some handyman and his supervisor creating their own interpretation of the fire code.
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I think that most states have strict regulations about safety in long term care homes. I'd go online and see if you can find yours and you might ask the facility about their safety/fire plan. They have to have one and I would think it must meet code regulations.
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My first question would be to the non-emergency number at the nearest fire dept., inviting them out to visit your Mom's room if necessary, MsMadge.

Because, I think the fire dept. are our friends. Their job is to make safety inspections.

Fearing retribution from the Hoca should not be a factor, in this case. The fire dept. can also be very friendly, even to those who ignore fire dept. regulations, if this is the case.

So, I suggest you share this time. I really think places like the Hoca are so bad that they will be going out of business. My hope for you and your Mom is that there will be a safe place for her.
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That's an interesting question that has sent me searching for answers since there are many different kinds of locked facilities (prisons and mental institutions spring to mind). From my reading it seems that people living in such places must trust the fire safety plan that is mandated for such facilities, since the option to make their own escape is obviously not available. The Fire Plan should include alarms, automatically closing room and fire doors, sprinklers (hopefully, but they are still not mandated everywhere), and staff who are drilled with procedures regularly. There will also be training and a plan logged at the local fire station.
I haven't been present when they do fire drill at mom's current NH, but I have been there when the power went out and all the doors slammed shut. The hope is that any real fire can be contained long enough for emergency services to arrive and help evacuate, even in the best run facility they obviously have no hope of getting every frail, demented and mobility impaired resident out in a timely manner.
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