Window falls a common but preventable childhood hazard
Each year more than 5,200 children suffer falls from windows and at least one in four is injured badly enough to be hospitalized. So it’s no accident that National Window Safety Week occurs in early Spring when the weather is mild enough to open the windows again. Safety experts take advantage of this week to remind parents and caregivers about the dangers of window falls. And there’s evidence in at least one state that it’s working. The Oregon Trauma Registry reports it is seeing a decrease in the number of falls.
Younger children are more likely to fall from windows, according to a study in the journal Pediatrics. The average age of children treated for injuries suffered in window falls in U.S. hospital emergency departments was five, while children four years old and younger were more likely to sustain head injuries, to be hospitalized, or die. Boys are slightly more likely to fall than girls.
When it comes to keeping your kids safe, there is no substitute for adult supervision. Safety experts recommend the follow precautions for parents, grandparents and other caregivers.
- Keep cribs and other furniture away from windows to eliminate the possibility of a child reaching a window by climbing.
- Install safety devices such as window guards or window stops on all second-story windows or higher. Since about one-third of falls occur from first floor windows, consider installing them on those windows, too. (Window stops should prevent the window from opening more than four inches, while allowing an adult to open it fully in case of a fire or other emergency.)
- Remember that screens do not prevent a child from falling out of a window.
- Open windows from the top, whenever possible.
- Consider planting bushes or locating flower beds under windows to soften the landing surface, which may reduce the severity of injury in the event of a fall.
- Remember that fire escapes, roofs and balconies are not safe places for children to play.
- Once your children are old enough, discuss with them the dangers of climbing out of or jumping from windows.
At least one window manufacturer offers child-safety latch options for double-hung and casement windows. Overriding the device requires carrying out a two-step process that would be challenging for a small child. They may cost more but are worth considering if you have small children living in or visiting your home.
If you’re replacing your windows, look for those with the best safety features. To find the type of window that’s best for your home, see our windows buying guide and the Ratings which tell you how they performed in our tests of wind and rain resistance, durability, convenience, and more, including six top picks in clad-wood, fiberglass, and vinyl.