An open window can keep your home cool on a hot day, but it can also put your family at risk.
Nearly 150 children, most aged one to six, were treated at trauma centres around B.C. after falling from a window or balcony between 2009 and 2015, according to BC Trauma Registry data.
Last June, a four-year-old boy died after falling from a third-floor window of a Langley home.
“From broken bones to severe bleeding in the brain, these types of falls can be life-altering for everyone involved,” said Dr. Ash Singhal, a pediatric neurosurgeon and the medical director of the BC Children’s Hospital trauma program, in a release. “I’ve seen it first-hand and have operated on numerous children with brain injuries from window and balcony falls. Parents always say the same thing: I wish I had known; I wish I could go back and prevent it.”
Led by their natural curiosity, children can open unlocked windows and toddlers, with high centres of gravity, can fall head-first through a window screen if they lean on it.
“It is heart-breaking that window falls involving toddlers and young children happen too often every spring and summer,” said Marilyn Oberg, a paramedic with BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS), in the release. “Fortunately for parents and caregivers, falls from windows or balconies are easily preventable by following our safety tips that help keep children out of harm’s way during the hot weather season.
BCEHS has released a list of safety tips for parents and others with children in their homes, in partnership with BC Children’s Hospital and the Condominium Home Owners Association of BC.
Tips to prevent falls from windows and balconies:
◗ Don’t underestimate a child’s mobility; children begin climbing before they can walk.
◗ Move furniture and household items away from windows to discourage children from climbing to peer out.
◗ Be particularly mindful of toddlers, who may climb on anything to get higher.
◗ Remember that window screens will not prevent children from falling through. They keep bugs out – not children in.
◗ Install window guards on windows above the ground level. These act as a gate in front of the window.
◗ Alternatively, fasten your windows so that they cannot open more than 10 centimetres (four inches).