There is nothing better than opening the windows after a long, cold winter and feeling the warm, spring breeze flow through your house.
But it is also the time of year that I like to remind families about how dangerous open windows can be for kids, especially for preschoolers.
Each year in the United States about eight children five years old and younger die from window falls. Similarly, about 3,300 children are treated in hospital emergency rooms yearly. It’s a tragic situation that can be avoided with awareness and prevention measures.
Window Falls: How they Happen
Often this tragedy happens one of two ways. Children play near an open window and push themselves against the screen. Or, they climb on furniture located next to an open window and fall through it. Children living in apartment buildings fall from windows at five times the rate of children living in other types of homes. The height of the fall, rate, force of impact and surface, all influence the severity of injuries. The greater the height of the fall, the higher the death rate.
As an Injury Prevention Specialist, I help educate families about window fall prevention. Often, families hear of these tragic stories in the news. But they are sometimes unsure of what steps to take to prevent it from happening in their home.
I thought it might be helpful to share some tips, so that families are more aware of how to avoid these preventable falls. Whether you live in a house or apartment complex, here are some reminders to prevent children from falling:
Reminders for Preventing Window Falls
- Never put a baby’s crib next to a window.
- Don’t depend on screens to keep children from falling out of windows – they are not designed to prevent them.
- Safeguard windows with window guards or window stops. Window guards prevent children from falling out of open windows. Window stops prevent windows from opening more than a few inches.
- Do not allow your children to play unsupervised next to an open window.
- Be sure that your children are supervised when they’re playing, wherever they are.
These are great reminders for when your children are playing in a location other than yours, such as at a babysitter’s house, a grandparent’s home, or another caregiver’s.
If your child does fall, seek immediate medical care and call your child’s doctor right away.
Our Comprehensive Children’s Injury Center (CCIC) is involved with many programs to help keep children safe at home, at play, or while traveling. The CCIC is specifically aimed at preventing childhood injuries in homes in higher risk communities in Hamilton County. If you’re not in the Hamilton County area, safekids.org is a fantastic resource for not only window fall prevention, but child safety in general.