When you're starting a daycare business out of your home, child safety is of utmost concern. Every nook and cranny of your home should be scrutinized and tailored to limit risk, including your windows and window coverings. If you're about to embark on a new career path and become a child care provider, here's everything you need to know about window and window covering safety.
You'll Need A Window In Every Room Without 2 Doors
Childcare is considered a general industry by OSHA, so if you're running a daycare out of your home, it has to meet the safety guidelines set forth by the organization. And under these guidelines, you'll need at least 2 exits in every room of your house. The entry door to each room will suffice as 1 exit, but any rooms that don't have 2 doors will need to have at least 1 window. Each exit also has to be a minimum of 28 inches wide to allow for easy evacuation in the event of fire.
If You Don't Meet The Window Requirements, You'll Have To Hire A Contractor
If your home was built before 1978 -- or if you have a newer house but antique windows -- there is a good chance that your windows and windowsills contain lead. Because lead can interfere with a child's development, special guidelines need to be followed when working on any home improvement project that might release it into the air.
If you don't meet the OSHA guidelines and you need to add windows to your home or expand the size of your windows before opening your daycare business, it's best to hire a contractor who is EPA-certified to do the work for you. You should also be aware that if your house or windows pre-date 1978, you need to provide the parents of the children who will attend your daycare with information on the dangers of lead-based paint.
For Window Coverings, Cordless Options Are Best
Blinds or shades are a better option than curtains for a daycare facility, because with children of varying ages at your house (some who will require naps) you'll want plenty of control over the amount of sunlight that enters each room. However, under no circumstances should window blind or shade cords be accessible to children; they pose serious risk of strangulation.
Millions of older-model shades have been recalled over the years due to strangulation risks. If you haven't exhausted your budget, buy new cordless shades or blinds for all your windows before opening your daycare business. Blinds manufactured after 2012 are put through strict testing procedures that limit the risks they pose for small children.
If you absolutely can't afford to purchase new shades at this time, get free retrofit kits to keep your old blinds safe until you can do so. The Window Covering Safety Council will give you as many kits as you need, but if you need more than 5 you'll have to fax your request on a slip of paper containing your business letterhead.
Don't Forget About Allergens
There is one more thing you should take into consideration when purchasing shades or blinds for your daycare facility -- allergens. Allergens can be life-threatening, and the slats on horizontal-slat blinds tend to provide a great surface for the build-up of allergen-containing dust. If you decide to purchase new blinds, select a model with vertical slats to make cleaning easier and limit the risk of a child you care for suffering an allergic reaction.
If you decide you'd rather shades over blinds for your daycare facility, spring on shades that are treated with an anti-static solution. The anti-static feature won't eliminate dirt and dander build-up, but it will slow it down substantially.
If you're planning on starting a daycare business out of your home, your windows and window coverings need special consideration. Use the above information as a guide on how to keep your windows and window coverings safe for the children you will be caring for.