Allentown Girl Dies From Fall Out of Apartment Window
In Allentown, residents and landlords are prohibited from installing bars on windows. According to the city’s building and housing codes, it is to allow residents to escape, and to avoid interference with responders during a fire or emergency. However, the issue of the bars on windows has arised in the wake of the death of a three year old. Tamara Arnette,3, and her sister, Tiana, age 5, fell from a fourth-floor apartment window in the city. The fall killed Tamara, and Tiana remains in the hospital in critical condition at Lehigh Valley Hospital.
The little girls had fallen out with a window screen. Valley Housing Development Corp. owns the 12-unit apartment building at 702 W. Turner St. where the girls fell. The company installs window blocks to prevent the windows from opening more than about 8 inches, however the executive director said sometimes the blocks are removed, but that they can be reinstalled after an inspection or new tenant moves in.
City Spokesman Mike Moore said the city’s Property Maintenance Code does not address window locks/guards. New construction codes do have requirements for exterior windows and doors installed in walls, as well as a number of provisions to prevent small children from falling out of open windows. “The death of one child and the serious injury to a second is a terrible tragedy. The city will seek to ascertain information on the scale and scope of the different types of windows in the city. The administration will gather input from the public safety, health and building standards bureaus and others before deciding whether to ask city council to enact any requirement,” Moore said. The Allentown Health Bureau has a brochure it uses called “Kids Can’t Fly” with information and recommendations to prevent window falls. The bureau also has a free home injury prevention program, where residents can have a room-by-room survey to identify potential risks and harms.
However, the issue is questioned by whether this is enough prevention. In New York City, the Health Department code requires landlords of buildings with three apartments or more, to have metal window guards that can bear up to 150 lbs. in apartments and public hallway windows where children ages 10 and younger live. According to New York City’s codes, window guards must be installed in all windows except fire escape access windows and secondary escape windows in first floor apartments. According to the New York Times, Charlotte Spiegel began New York City’s program in 1976. When it began, 217 children were injured in window falls and 24 died. In 2013, six children were injured and one died falling from windows that should have been equipped with guards, the Times reported when Spiegel died in March. These statistics raise question against Allentown’s prohibition against installing bars on windows, and whether it truly is for the better, and safety of Allentown.