With nice weather finally upon us, there’s nothing like opening a few windows to let in the fresh spring air. But take care to prevent an open window from becoming a safety hazard for young children.
According to Safe Kids Worldwide, roughly 3,300 children aged 5 and younger are injured every year due to falls from an open window. Every summer, 40 to 50 of those kids are treated at the Pediatric Trauma Care Center at Harborview Medical Center.
“Twenty-five percent of kids we see who’ve fallen from a window end up in our intensive care unit and a significant number leave with some disability,” said Dr. Brian Johnston, chief of pediatrics at Harborview Medical Center in 2018.
Window falls can happen within seconds, and aren’t necessarily due to a lack of supervision. Rather, it is a child’s natural propensity to explore the world by putting their hands on things. When it comes to screens on an open window, a slight push even a properly installed one can pop out before you know it.
The National Safety Council’s Window Safety Task Force recommends these tips to protect children and help prevent accidental window falls:
• When young children are around, keep windows closed and locked.
• When opening a window for ventilation, use those located out of a child’s reach.
• Supervise children to keep child’s play away from windows, balconies or patio doors.
• Avoid placing furniture near windows to prevent young children from climbing and gaining access to an open window.
• Don’t allow children to jump on beds or other furniture to help reduce potential falls.
• Don’t rely on insect screens to prevent a window fall. Insect screens are designed to keep bugs out, not to keep children in the home.
• Install ASTM F2090 compliant devices designed to limit how far a window will open or window guards (with quick-release mechanisms in case of fire or other emergency) to help prevent a fall.
• Teach your child how to safely use a window to escape during an emergency, such as a fire.