know the dangers of windows
The devastating story of a toddler who fell 11 stories to her death from the window of a cruise ship strikes fear in the heart of every parent. Especially since almost every parent has probably held a child up to a window to look out in a similar way.
Sadly she is not the first to die this way. Every year about eight children under the age of 5 die from falling out of a window, according the Consumer Product Safety Commission. More than 3,300 children are seriously injured and hospitalized. Dayton Children’s emergency department treats a handful of kids every year for falls out of a window, typically from two or three stories high.
“Children are head heavy,” says Lisa Schwing, RN, trauma program manager at Dayton Children’s Hospital. “Their heads are bigger in proportion to the rest of their body than adults. This means they are more likely to fall head first, injuring their skull and brain upon impact.”
While most windows have screens, they do not provide enough protection to keep a child safe. “Screens can keep bugs out, but they can’t keep children in,” says Schwing. “A lot of people think that a screen will keep a child safe from falling through an open window, but that is not true. Children can easily push their way through a screen.”
Follow these tips to keep your children safe from a fall:
- Always keep windows closed and locked when not in use.
- When you open the windows, keep your eyes on your children to ensure they don’t get too close.
- Keep cribs, chairs and other furniture away from windows to prevent children from climbing up to an open window.
- Install window guards and stops. Window guards are gates that keep a child from pushing on the screen. Window stops keep a window from being opened more than a few inches. Make sure that adults and older children can open in case of emergency.
- If you have windows that can open from the top and bottom, always open the top to prevent accidental falls.
- Remind grandparents and other caregivers about window safety.
- Never let a child lean on the glass of a window, just in case it is not latched properly.
If your child does fall out a window, do not try to move him or her. Call 911 and let a trained professional move your child with the proper precautions.