At Renewal by Andersen of New Jersey, our customers ask us about our portfolio of windows and patio doors every day and we often talk to them about our wide selection of frame colors, low-profile and space-saving designs, and exceptional energy efficiency features.
Surprisingly, one area these people often neglect to ask about is safety. Because your family’s comfort and safety are very important to us, we wanted to take this opportunity to discuss replacement window designs and style choices for people aging in place, and for families who have loved ones with disabilities or mobility issues.
We hope the tips below help you start your decision-making journey with safety in mind.
Choosing the Right Style
Not surprisingly, AARP recommends choosing doors with openings wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs. As the population ages, every room should have at least one operable window or door able to meet that recommendation. Hinged French-style doors open wide to allow easy entrance and exit, or egress. Depending on the width of your door opening, sliding doors are also an excellent option for wheelchair-bound family members and both door styles make gurney access more efficient during a medical emergency.
It is important to think about getting out of your home quickly during fires or other natural disasters too. Choose door styles that are wide enough and tall enough to allow you to push a wheelchairs through. Consider this for your windows too. Awning windows crank out providing excellent ventilation, but may not open wide enough to get your loved one out of your home quickly in an emergency.
Select a window style that has locking (and opening and closing) mechanisms accessible from a seated position. All Renewal by Andersen windows open and close easily; however, the placement and style of your hardware should work for all family members. The best window style for most aging and handicapped family members is a style that can be operated with one hand.
Some situations require greater control over window operation. Homes with small children — or adults with dementia or reduced cognitive abilities — benefit from window styles that lock in multiple positions. A four-inch opening is safe while providing ample ventilation for most rooms. Locks positioned out of reach and recessed hardware prevent accidental falls through open windows and allow for easy exit when seconds count.
Your new replacement windows will improve your home’s curb appeal and increase safety with proper planning and design. While you are considering styles and colors for your windows, think about the external areas extending six feet out from your windows. If your landscaping plans include flowering plants or shrubs beneath windows, choose shrubs without sharp foliage and thorns. This will prevent unnecessary injuries during a hasty exit.
Sidewalks and patios near windows pose special safety hazards for wheelchair-bound family members. Double hung windows and low-profile sliding windows are safer options than windows that crank out in most cases.
Special Windows for Each Room
Think about how each family member uses a room. When designing spaces for aging in place, remember that as we age, it is easier to lose one’s balance. Never place an operable sash window behind a bathtub or directly behind a work bench wide enough to require a “tip-toe reach”.
Another consideration is furniture placement. Windows are meant to be enjoyed. Sitting in front of a large window while watching the birds or enjoying a gentle breeze is pleasurable and relaxing. If you plan to place sofas or large furniture pieces directly in front of your windows, consider hardware placement. Reaching over, above or behind furniture to access latches or open windows presents safety challenges. Likewise, handles that protrude from the window can be dangerous if at head level when sitting and leaning back in a couch or chair.
Renewal by Andersen of New Jersey Accessibility Consultation
Renewal by Andersen replacement windows are built to fit your existing window footprint — which saves you money and time as compared to the extensive remodeling and construction that can be required installing varied sizes and shapes from your current windows. However, sometimes modifying your home to accommodate family members confined to wheelchairs is necessary to create safe, comfortable spaces for the whole family. If you’re considering in-depth renovations, our professional window consultants can help you plan your project.
Contact Renewal by Andersen of New Jersey for Help
Renewal by Andersen of New Jersey has a huge portfolio of options that will allow you to choose beautiful, high-performance windows for your home that don’t sacrifice your safety or convenience. If you have questions, please allow us to schedule an in home consultation to discuss window options for your family. Simply fill in the form on this page or give us a call at 1-888-826-2451.