With their large panels of glass and floor-to-ceiling design, swinging French patio doors let the light shine in while also granting you a view of your patio from the indoors. Unfortunately, many parents are concerned that these doors aren't safe for kids. They worry their kids may throw a toy through the glass and become injured, or push the doors open and wander outdoors. Parents are also concerned about thieves and other criminals breaking in through the swinging French patio doors -- which seem less secure than doors made from heavy wood or metal -- and causing harm to their children. Yet, French patio doors don't have to pose a risk to your kids. With the tips below, you can make them safe.
Choose a design with one "fixed" door.
Standard, swinging French doors in which both doors can be opened are notably insecure. Since there is no door jamb (the doors come together in the center and lock together), it is quite easy for someone to kick the doors in and gain access to your little ones. Luckily, door manufacturers have created a solution for this problem: French doors where only one swings, and the other door is actually stationary. This design makes it much harder for a burglar to kick the doors in. The stationary door can actually serve as a full-fledged door jamb; it just looks like a door.
Cover your glass in shatter-proof film.
If your child tosses a toy into a standard glass window, it may shatter and produce sharp pieces that could cut him or her. You can prevent such issues by applying shatter-resistant film to the windows in your French doors. This product is sold at many home improvement stores. It comes in big rolls; you just measure it to the size of the window, cut it out, and stick it on.
When glass that has been covered with shatter resistant coating is struck, all of the resulting pieces stay stuck to the film rather than scattering all over the floor. Yes, your child may still cut themselves if they run their fingers over the window after it has cracked -- but chances are good that you'll hear the cracking noise and come running before your child has a chance to touch the glass. Shatterproof film also makes it a lot harder for a criminal to break in through the glass.
Make sure the doors open inward.
French patio doors can be difficult to latch. Some parents worry that if they don't latch the doors properly, their child may lean against the door, causing it to open outwards and give them access to the great outdoors. By mounting your doors so that they open inward, you can thwart this issue.
Install a safety latch near the top of the door.
When your child reaches the age at which he or she is able to open doorknobs, you may worry about him or her escaping through the doors and onto the patio. (This is why so many parents choose sliding doors instead of push-open ones.) However, if you have your heart set on swinging French doors, you can have them -- as long as you install a safety latch. This is a simple, lever-like latch that folds over the door and does not allow it to open. As long as you place it 5 or 6 feet from the floor and actually remember to close it, your child won't be able to reach it and open the door. Note that security latches of this type are typically sold in the baby aisle of home improvement stores and may come as a part of a "childproofing" kit.
If you minimize the risk of break-ins with fixed doors, install shatterproof coating, use a safety latch and position the doors to open inward, you'll have removed most of the risks that French patio doors present to children. Enjoy your safe and attractive new doors!