window falls

5 ways to protect children from window falls at home

The combination of warming weather and children spending more time at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic prompts an important reminder for parents to protect kids from window falls.

In March and April 2020, the CHOC Trauma Center treated eight patients injured after falling from windows. By comparison, clinicians there treated three patients for window falls during the same time period in 2019.

“Forty-three percent of all trauma cases here at CHOC are related to unintentional falls, and of those, 35 percent were window falls,” says Amy Waunch, CHOC’s trauma program coordinator.

Window screens are no match for even a young child’s weight, and small kids can squeeze through openings as narrow as 4 inches. Any window higher than 6 feet from the ground poses a risk for serious, even fatal injury.

“Boys younger than 5 are at the biggest risk, and the peak age is 24 months,” says Amy Frias, a CHOC community educator and the Orange County coordinator for Safe Kids Worldwide.

With Trauma Injury Awareness Month underway, here are five tips from CHOC experts to help keep kids safe from window falls:

  1. Lock them down— Install removable window locks or guards to limit a window’s opening to no more than 4 inches. Be sure the device can be removed quickly by adults in case of an emergency. Keep windows locked when not in use.
  2. Open windows strategically – If your home has double-hung windows, which open from both the top and bottom, open just the top to prevent falls.
  3. Practice vigilance – If you open windows to let in fresh air, be mindful of closing and locking windows before you leave the room.
  4. Position furniture carefully – Keep beds, bookcases, chairs, play chests and other furniture away from windows so your child isn’t tempted to climb.
  5. Supervise, supervise, supervise – As with all injury prevention efforts, keeping an eye on kids is critical. As children grow, their abilities, strength, dexterity and curiosity grow too – and they may be able to outsmart your best-laid safety plans.

If your child does fall out of a window, call 911 and avoid moving your child. A traumatic injury to the head, neck or spine may not be immediately obvious.

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