Household Safety:Tips to Prevent Children From Falling Out of Windows

Household Safety: Tips to Prevent Children From Falling Out of Windows (sourced from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center)

As temperatures rise, often so do the windows of peoples’ homes. Some people want to air out their home after a long winter while others do so to get a break from the heat. An unfortunate side effect of open windows is an increase in window falls.

“Window falls are a major cause of injuries and death in children, especially those living in urban areas,” says Wendy Pomerantz, MD, an Emergency Medicine physician at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

“Children are more likely to die or be injured severely after a fall from a window than from a fall associated with any other product, and children under 5 are particularly vulnerable,” says Dr. Pomerantz.

Fact About Children and Window Falls

Each year in the United States, 15 to 20 children under the age of 11 die, and nearly 15,000 are injured, because of falls from windows. Window falls tend to occur in low-income neighborhoods with deteriorating housing, unsatisfactory window construction and no air conditioning.

Children living in apartment buildings fall from windows at five times the rate of children living in other types of residences. The height of the fall, rate of the fall, force of impact and surface on which the child falls influence severity of injuries. The greater the height of the fall, the higher the death rate.

Preventing Window Falls

As temperatures rise parents open their windows, says Dr. Pomerantz. But there are steps parents can take to prevent windows falls:

  • Most window falls occur when children are unsupervised. Don’t leave young children alone.
  • Make sure no furniture that children can climb on is placed near windows.
  • NEVER depend on screens to keep children from falling out of windows. Screens are not designed to prevent falls.
  • Whenever possible, open windows from the top, rather than the bottom.
  • Safeguard windows with window guards or window stops. Window guards prevent children from falling out of open windows, and window stops prevent windows from opening more than a few inches.

“To prevent injury and death, parents and landlords can take action,” says Dr. Pomerantz. “If property owners install window guards or window stops in buildings with many levels, it would substantially reduce window falls and prevent a major child health problem.”

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