City official touts
safety screens

But a glass company owner
says screens would not have
stopped a girl's fall

Screens and other devices could help prevent accidents such as the one in which a 5-year-old Waipahu girl was seriously injured yesterday in a fall from a third-floor window, a city building official says.

There was no window screen when the girl crashed through a set of glass jalousies after apparently climbing onto the window in a bedroom at 5 a.m. yesterday while her grandmother slept, police said.

City building plan examiner Roy Adaniya said the city building code allows jalousie windows that extend to the floor in multistory buildings. However, he said windows must have a screen or guardrail, usually found on the inside.

"The screen acts as a protective barrier for people falling through windows," Adaniya said.

But Glassco Inc. owner Arnold Ichimasa said, "The screens are not going to stop anything. The only thing screens are made to stop is insects."

The girl was taken in critical condition to the Queen's Medical Center. Hospital officials would not give out her condition last night.

A neighbor saw the girl with her feet dangling from the window of the apartment at Su Casa, 94-245 Leowahine St.

And a woman in the first-floor apartment below said she heard the crash of the windows and the thud of the girl's body hit the ground just outside her window.

Resident manager Leon Angeles said the screen was not found in the apartment when he went in with police to check the apartment.

He said that in his four years as resident manager, there has never been such an accident, and that it is up to individual condominium owners to take whatever safety measures they want.

The girl's grandmother rented the apartment, Angeles said.

Officials from property management company Certified Management had no comment.

Window retailers say various devices could safeguard children from potentially dangerous situations, but can be costly.

A salesman at One Stop Windows & Doors recommended a horizontal guardrail between 24 to 36 inches off the floor, which would prevent someone from falling out. He also suggested replacing lower glass jalousies with wooden, or even sturdier aluminum or vinyl ones, and leaving glass ones on the upper portion to allow light in.

But Ichimasa said a horizontal bar won't do much to protect a child from climbing through, while vertical bars could make a home look like a prison.

And fastening bars can pose a problem, especially to hollow tile walls.

"Generally, we just follow building codes," he said. "Whatever they allow, that's what we install. Jalousies afford the most ventilation. That's why they're so widely used in the past."

He encourages residents to check the jalousie clips, which hold the glass in place, and to replace those that are worn and corroded.


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