Your Four-Inch Window of Prevention

Window screens may be effective for keeping bugs out of your home, but they’re not strong enough to keep your child inside. Since opening in January 2015, the CHOC Trauma Center has treated a surprising number of children injured from window falls. In recognition of National Trauma Awareness Month, learn how to prevent the leading cause of non-fatal childhood injuries in the United States.

CHOC Children's Trauma Center

Every year, unintentional window falls send thousands of children ages 6 and younger to emergency departments nationwide. A young child can squeeze through an opening larger than 4 inches, and any window higher than 6 feet from the ground poses a risk for serious, possibly fatal injury.

Since opening in January 2015, the CHOC Trauma Center has also seen a significant percentage of fall-related injuries. About 40 percent of all trauma cases have been related to unintentional falls. Of those, 35 percent were window falls.

“Boys younger than age 5 are at the biggest risk,” said CHOC Community Health Educator Amy Frias, who is also the Orange County coordinator for Safe Kids Worldwide. “They’re playful, spontaneous, energetic and imaginative.”

Window screens will not support a small child’s weight, she added. Young children are naturally top heavy.

Protect Your Child From Window Falls

Remember to supervise your child around windows at home, and whenever visiting family and friends. Extra precautions may buy you precious extra seconds:

  • Lock it down— Install a removable window lock or guard to limit the opening to no more than 4 inches. Be sure it is one that may be removed quickly in the event of an emergency, such as a fire.
  • Outsmart your little “climber.” Keep beds, bookcases, play chests and other furniture away from windows.

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

The Julia and George Argyros Emergency Department at CHOC is home to Orange County’s first pediatric-focused trauma center. Our specially trained physicians, surgeons, nurses and respiratory therapists are available around the clock to provide immediate intervention and care for traumatic injuries.

Download this tip sheet to learn more about childhood injury prevention, including unintentional falls.

Learn more about pediatric emergency and trauma services at CHOC.

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