Landlords in Montgomery County, Maryland, will soon have to take extra steps to help prevent children from falling out of building windows. County Executive Marc Elrich signed a bill on the matter Tuesday.
“This was a tragedy and it’s heartbreaking but it’s also avoidable,” Elrich said during the signing in Rockville.
It’s called “Ezechiel’s Law,” and it’s named after Ezechiel Nguemezi, who died after falling from a window in Takoma Park in October of last year.
According to Children’s National Hospital, 33 children fell from windows in the D.C. area in 2020, an increase from 18 in 2019.
Officials said it’s likely because more children were home and many schools and day cares were closed during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We have a lot of aging, multi-family properties and a lot of windows that present a hazard to young children,” said Montgomery County Council president Tom Hucker, who spearheaded the passing of the law.
He said that the timing of this bill was especially important given the increase of this type of injury and death in the last few years.
“This was not an isolated incident,” Hucker said. “Tragically we’ve seen several incidents of children suffering from serious injuries from window falls in the county in just the last several years, including an incident last May in Gaithersburg and another in 2019 in Takoma Park.”
The law requires landlords to install window guards in any multifamily rental units with children 10 years old or younger, or if the tenant requests it in writing.
Ezechiel’s aunt read a statement from his mother, Alvine Nguemezi, saying, “I think of him everyday and wonder why this happened.”
She added: “I don’t want to see another parent go through what I have gone through since Oct. 11, 2020.”
The law was unanimously passed by the Montgomery County Council in April. It will go into effect on Jan. 1.
“These injuries and deaths are easily preventable,” Hucker said.