The Retro Look: Retrofit Window Guards And Bars With Quick-Release Mechanisms

by Diane Barnes

Are you a homeowner whose home has old window guards or burglar bars on the windows? If so, you really do need to consider retrofitting the bars with a quick-release mechanism if you haven't already done so. Without a way to open the bars, residents in your home—including you—could be trapped if a fire breaks out. Guards and bars are meant to be tough, and you won't be able to simply push them out if you need to escape. Here's a look at what retrofitting the bars can do for you and your family.

Kept People Out—and Kept People In

Older bars were bolted into house walls with no way to remove the bars. This meant that no one could get in—but it also meant that no one could get out. Unfortunately, that lead to the deaths of people stuck in rooms where all escape was cut off by both fire and the bars. In 1996, laws were enacted to require window bars to have release mechanisms.

All new bars had to have these release mechanisms, and technically, older bars should have been modified so that they had the release mechanisms, too. However, it's impossible for cities and states to inspect all the homes that have bars on the window. So, many places still have the older bars. If you've got the older bars too, you've got to update them now.

Updating Is Safer

If you update, you make your home a lot safer for you and your family, and for future residents of the home should you decide to sell it. The mechanisms usually consist of pedals placed close to the ground where anyone can reach them. If a fire breaks out and cuts off an occupied room from the rest of the house, the people in the room can hit the pedal, open the bars and window, and get out.

If you don't update, then you risk being trapped in the room if there's a fire. This is not just a warning or some speculation. The "Los Angeles Times" reported in 2004 that there had been a couple of instances in the past year where people died in house fires, trapped by window bars.

So the risk is real. Plus, if you don't update the bars, buyers might not want to look at your house if you decide to sell. Since they would either have to update the bars themselves or put their lives at risk if they bought your house, the prospective buyers would be more likely to look at other houses instead.

Window Bar Companies Can Help You

Talk to a company like Bracci Fence Inc that offers window guards and bars about updating the bars. The staff can give you prices, and workers can inspect the current bars to ensure they're in good shape. Adding the pedals won't take that much time, and the result will be better for all concerned.