December 17, 2019

Senate Passes Hirono Provision to Strengthen Window Safety Protections for Children Living in Military Housing

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Senate passed legislation authored by Senator Hirono that would require all windows in military housing 42 inches or lower off the floor to be equipped with a fall protection device. Named after seven-year-old Hawaii resident Evan English, the updated provision was included in the Conference Report of the FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed by the Senate on an 86-8 vote and now goes to the President for his signature.

“We all remember the heartbreaking loss of Evan English in 2011, whose death may have been prevented with the appropriate safety equipment on windows in military housing. After working to include the original Evan’s Law in the FY2018 NDAA, I fought to expand it so its protections apply to more dwellings and for families living in privatized military housing,” Senator Hirono said. “Whether they live on or off base, our service members and their families deserve safe, high-quality housing and I urge the President to sign this important provision into law as soon as possible.”

“Without Senator Hirono leading this effort in the Senate, the children of our Military Families would continue to be at risk of Traumatic Brain Injury and even death.  Senator Hirono's legislation may also become the model that is used in other Government and public housing across the United States,” Jim Graham, Executive Director of the National Association for Child Window Safety said. “Child Safety Screens not only save children they also save taxpayer dollars on window maintenance costs.  It would be irresponsible to not have them installed as soon as possible.  I am sure Senator Hirono will make sure they are.

“We do not want to see any child hurt from a window fall, especially when there are simple things that can be done to ensure that kids are safe when windows are open. Safe Kids Hawai‘i, led by Kapi‘olani Medical Center for Women & Children, is grateful for the passing of the modification to Evan’s Law to include windows with sill heights below 42 inches from the floor, and supports the ongoing efforts of the National Association for Child Window Safety to ensure the safety of children,” Lisa Dau, RN, Safe Kids Hawai‘i Coordinator and Kapi‘olani Medical Center for Women & Children Injury Prevention Coordinator said.

“On behalf of the family of Evan English, mahalo to Senator Hirono for her leadership role in getting Congressional approval of amendments to Evan’s Law. The new law will result in protecting nearly all second story windows in a typical military family housing project,” Wayne Parsons, the attorney representing the English family, said. “Many injuries will be prevented and many lives will be saved when this law is implemented, and the focus will now shift to monitoring and encouraging rapid implementation of this law in the many military family housing projects on military bases around the country and in Hawaii.”

Initially included in the FY 2018 NDAA, Evan’s Law originally required that windows in military family housing units, with a bottom sill within 24 inches of the floor and more than 72 inches above the ground, be equipped with fall prevention devices in compliance with International Building Code standards. It also required DoD to submit an independent assessment of child safety in military housing units. Senator Hirono’s new legislation adds to Evan’s Law by mandating all windows under 42 inches be retrofitted and authorizes funding for retrofitting or replacing windows to install window fall prevention devices in privatized and military-owned housing.

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