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4:00pm on Sunday, 20th July, 2008:

Bamboozled by Technology


Some council workmen came round my mother's house the other day to improve the safety of her windows. They installed new, child-proof locks.

OK, so here's something you need to know about my mother: the words "child proof" translate into "mother proof". I remember when I was a kid and they brought out the first pill bottles with child-proof locks — I had to open them for her, because she couldn't get in otherwise.

So it was with the windows. It took her 45 minutes of pressing buttons and pulling and twisting to open one window, and when she did get it open she learned that it wouldn't go wider than a couple of inches. The workmen had also put in some kind of retaining bar.

OK, so my mother may not get along with any technology invented within the past 100 years, but she's not stupid. Her house has only one door into it, so in the event of a fire she needs to be able to open her windows wider than 2 inches so she can use them as an escape route. She called the council about it, and next day the workers came back and undid what they'd done.

She asked them why they'd put the safety locks and safety bar on in the first place. The workers told it was to stop children from climbing onto the window sill, opening the window and tumbling outside.

So, this is a bungalow. If you fell out of the window, you'd do yourself less of an injury than if you fell off the sill onto the floor inside the house.

Someone, somewhere, has a council house checklist that they need to update...

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Copyright © 2008 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).