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Child Safety Information

"Providing maximum safety for children"

The National Ornamental & Miscellaneous Metals Association (NOMMA) has a long and proud tradition of supporting public safety. In following our commitment to safety, NOMMA endorses the current commercial and residential building codes published by the International Code Council. As a parent, one of the best things you can do to protect youngsters is to make sure your guards meet current codes.

Building Codes

Openings in Guards: The ICC codes state that no opening in a railing should allow a 4-inch sphere to pass through. If your home was built prior to 1994 you may have guards with a 6-inch or even 9-inch opening. Current and past data shows that "fall through” accidents, incidents where a child or small person accidentally slips or falls through an opening larger than 4” within the railing design,  account for the vast majority of accidental falls and deaths from high balconies and porches. Therefore, it is highly recommended that the openings on any non-compliant or older railings be adapted to meet the current code requirements. Should you wish to reduce the openings in your guard system, a professional NOMMA member can work with you to design a retrofit. If spacing is too wide, corrective measures may include adding intermediate members or scrollwork.

Location Requirement : A guard is required for porches, balconies, or raised floor surfaces more than 30 inches above the floor or grade below.

Minimum Guard Height Requirements: 36 inches residential, 42 inches commercial. Just like the opening requirements, older codes allowed for railings as low as 30”, and in some cases even lower. For adults and children alike, a low railing is a hazard for falling over. Therefore, it is highly recommended that the height of any non-compliant railings be modified to at least meet the minimum requirement.

Balcony Protection

Secure Doors and Windows — keep doors and windows leading to balconies locked. For open entrances, add a gate with an elevated safety latch.

Parental Control: Never leave a child unattended on a balcony or high porch, even if it has a code-compliant guard.


The use of safety gates at the top and or bottom of the stairs to prevent climbing or accidental falls by toddlers is highly recommended.


When traveling with children, upon arrival in the hotel room, assess the integrity of the railings the same way you do at home. Some destinations may have furniture resting against the balcony rail, or the rail itself may be out of code (larger than 4" gaps).


Check your railings often for signs of wear or damage and make sure the fasteners are in tact. Structural failure from poor maintenance is a hazard for all occupancies.  The load limit for code compliant railings is 200 pounds. If your railing is wobbly or loose, have it inspected by a local NOMMA member firm and repaired immediately.

Do not allow children to sit on railings — this is not the purpose of their design.

Never allow furniture or other items to be placed against a guard or railing of any type of construction; it will defeat the purpose of the guard.

Never allow or encourage children to play near or on a railing of any type. The caregiver in this case is negligent.
Verbal commands may not be sufficient — be prepared to carefully carry the child away from railings.

Do not place benches, furniture, or other objects next to a guard.

Window Guards*

Install window guards to prevent children from falling out of windows. If this is not practical for all windows, use window stops instead (windows should not open more than 4 inches).

Regularly check to ensure that any release mechanism is in proper working order.

Never depend on screens to keep a child from falling out of a window.

Security Grilles

NOMMA is a proactive leader in the area of Security Grille Safety. In past years, the association has helped to create safety guidelines and we actively lobbied for the passage of a security grille safety law in California. Click here to view our free, downloadable guidelines.

Swimming Pool Perimeter Protection*

Fences and gates should be at least 4 feet high and installed completely around the pool.

Gates should be self-closing and self-latching. The latch should be out of reach of small children.

Gates should swing out, away from pool.

Gates should not have an ornamental pattern between 2 and 48 inches.

If a door from your house opens directly to the pool area, place an alarm on the door.

If a child is missing, always check the pool first!

Familiarize yourself with local swimming pool codes. Should you have a concern about compliance, contact a local NOMMA member for a professional consultation and to have any needed work performed.

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Links To More Safety Information

Virginia Dept. of Health - Fall Prevention Article

Consumer Product Safety Commission

*Information adapted from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

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