Here's an article I submitted for DesMoinesParent.com. To see the original article, go here.
Now that the temperatures are finally getting warmer, we love to enjoy the fresh air by having our windows open. But, open windows pose hidden hazards for our young children. Statistics show that most window fall injuries occur during the spring and summer months because of nicer weather.
Each year in the US, window falls account for approximately 12 deaths and 5,000 injuries to children 10 years and under. Common injuries include broken bones, head/brain injuries and soft tissue injuries. Due to their larger and heavier heads, young children under the age of 4 are most likely to suffer head/brain injuries , making them twice as likely to die from a window fall than older children.
Young children are fearless and curious; and their depth perception is not fully developed yet. Children love to look outside and see what’s going on. It is important not to place furniture, or anything else children can use to climb, in front of a window. In most reported incidents, a young child climbed up onto something gaining access to the window.
Window screens and child play
Don’t have a false sense of security if a window screen is present. In 80% of window fall incidents, a screen is present. Window screens are designed to keep bugs out, not children in. When pressure or weight is applied to a screen it can easily pop out and therefore, it and the child could fall out resulting in serious injury or even death.
Children should never be left unsupervised near any open windows. They should be taught to play a safe distance away from windows (i.e. a “2 giant step” rule). During any kind of running, jumping or innocent, rough-housing play, a child could accidently fall out of an unprotected window.
When not in use, windows should be locked using the built-in locking mechanism. If possible, open windows from the top for ventilation. If a window must be opened from the bottom, use the “no more than 4 inches” rule, only opening the window up to 4 inches.
Another consideration to keep in mind is, in the event of a fall, what is the surface below the window? Even though an injury could result from any type of surface, harder surfaces do pose a greater chance of serious injury. You may want to plant bushes or shrubs under a window that could ‘soften’ a fall.
We all want to protect our children, but we need to do it in a safe manner. Avoid the’ handy man tricks’ and only install window safety devices that meet ASTM standards, such as Kidco Mesh Window Guards, Kidco Window Stoppers or Guardian Angel Window Guards. These products help protect children from falling out and they have quick release mechanisms to not entrap people in the event of an emergency.
While there is no substitute for proper supervision, young children are quick and unfortunately injuries can happen in an instant. By using these window safety tips, you can prevent window falls in your home.