What goes up must come down. True or false? I never really gave it much thought until I started to write this post. I’m probably giving my age away, but do any of you remember having to manually use your hand to crank open and close the window in your first vehicle? Okay, so maybe you’re not that old, but you vaguely remember having to do that in your mom or dad’s vehicle when you were a child. Thank goodness for technology, right? Now you simply push a button and presto: automatically the windows in your vehicle come up and down with the flick of a finger. However, technology is NOT always good, better or safer! Did you know that every year approximately two thousand people, half of them children, are treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries related to power windows because the window that goes up, does NOT always come down?!
The Danger of Power Windows
Power windows can exert an upward force of 30-80 pounds of force. It takes a meager 22 pounds of force to suffocate or injure an infant, and it simply takes TWO pounds of force to activate the window switch. Yes, you read it right: a mere TWO pounds of pressure activates the window switch. Over 50 children have been killed by power windows since 1990. Thousands of children have been injured, most of them age three or younger, with innumerable suffering brain injuries and amputations to fingers.
The following is a public service announcement from KidsAndCars, a nonprofit child safety organization dedicated to preventing injuries and deaths to children in and around motor vehicles. This shows the dangers and deadly force of power windows. Please take 30 seconds to watch. It could save a child’s life.
Automatic Reversing Systems
You may be wondering: how can this happen? Surely, if a child presses or accidentally kneels on the window switch and activates the window to rise and his fingers, arm or head is hanging out the window, when the window touches that object, it is going to automatically reverse, right? Unfortunately, if the vehicle is not equipped with automatic reversing systems (ARS) and a child’s fingers, arm or head is hanging out the window, it will not automatically reverse when it meets contact, which can result in serious injury or even death.
Why isn’t it mandatory that all vehicles sold in the United States have ARS? This doesn’t make sense to me. Do you have a garage at home? Did you know the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) required on January 1st of 1991 that ALL garage door openers manufactured or imported for sale in the United States have reversing systems? Even elevators have ARS. Having ARS in vehicles seems like a simple fix to protect our children from serious injury or even death due to power windows, but sadly it isn’t a legal requirement.
So what can you do to prevent a tragic accident like this from happening?
- First and foremost, establish if you have ARS in ALL of your windows of your vehicle. Surprisingly, some vehicles only have ARS in the FRONT and some only have it in the “express” or one-touch mode. If you are unsure if your vehicle is equipped with ARS, you can test your windows using a water bottle and try to raise the window up with it obstructing the way.
- Make sure if you have safety locks for your windows that they are on lock so children are not able to play or activate the switches. Examine your window switches. Do you have the more risky design switches that are easier to activate like the horizontal rocker switches or toggle switches, or do you have the safer lever design that have to be pulled up to activate?
- It is important to never leave children unattended in vehicles and always teach older children about the dangers associated with power windows.
- In addition, we should rally and demand to the auto manufactures that every vehicle should come with ARS on all power windows, just like garage doors and elevators!