Tips to prevent falls from windows and balconies.
Children are especially vulnerable to falls because they are curious. They love to climb and often don’t recognize when they are putting themselves at risk.
The risk of pediatric window falls increases as the temperatures rise due to people opening their windows more often. Falls from windows and balconies can lead to life-altering injuries and even death.
According to Trauma Services BC, between 2016 and 2020, trauma centres across British Columbia admitted 81 children after falling from windows or balconies. This is a concerning number that highlights the need for increased awareness and preventive measures.
Window screens provide a false sense of security. Children can easily push through or fall out of screens, and they should never be relied upon to prevent falls.
A few simple actions can make your home more secure for children and prevent devastating falls.
- Install window guards on windows above the ground level. These can act as a gate in front of the window.
- Install window and door safety locks. These safety features prevent windows from opening more than 10 centimetres (four inches). Children can fit through spaces as small as 12 centimetres (five inches) wide. Ensure there is a safe release option in case of a house fire.
- Don’t underestimate a child’s mobility; children often begin climbing before they can walk.
- Move household items away from windows. This can discourage children and toddlers from using objects like a step stool to climb and peer out.
- Don’t leave children unattended on balconies or decks. Move furniture or planters away from the edges as children can climb up and over.
- Window screens keep bugs out, not children in. Most screens pop out easily, allowing children to push through and fall. Toddlers who have a higher centre of gravity can easily fall headfirst through a window screen if they lean against it.
- Talk to your children about the dangers of opening and playing near windows, particularly on upper floors of the home.
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