Now that the weather is warming, folks are opening windows to let the spring air inside. But, windows pose a serious risk to youngsters, as demonstrated this afternoon when a toddler was injured in a fall from a second-story window in Arapahoe County. The two-year-old fell from a window at The Vistas at Saddle Rock apartments and was taken to a local hospital.
Every year in the United States, nearly 5,000 children — mostly toddlers — fall out of windows; 28% require a hospital stay and approximately 20 die. Even a short fall of 10 feet can result in spinal injury, paralysis and fatal head injury.
Window falls are especially dangerous because of the height involved and the hard landing surfaces. And a window screen is NOT a safety device. Window guards, window locks or wedges or other means should be installed to keep the windows to a limited opening. Proper safety devices on windows save lives.
Window guards have been shown to reduce fatal falls by up to 35% as seen in a pilot study in New York City and the nonprofit product testing organization, ASTM International, has established voluntary standards to ensure window guards don’t interfere with emergency escape in a fire. In an apartment in a high-rise building, these devices should be considered essential safety equipment.
Window guards screw into the side of a window frame and have bars no more than 4 inches apart. They are sold in different sizes for various size windows and adjust for width. Guards must meet requirements for spacing and strength. In a home with young children it is critical that window guards that are installed have a release mechanism so that they can be opened for escape in a fire emergency. Guards that allow for escape in case of emergencies must be difficult for very young children to open.
Other safety devices such as window wedges or braces are available, and in some cases simply removing the hand cranks on casement windows is sufficient. Whatever measure is employed, ensure that windows do not open more than 4 inches.
Safe Kids Denver Metro also reminds parents and caregivers:
- Keep windows closed and locked when children are around, and keep furniture and anything that a child can climb away from windows to reduce the chances of a child falling through a window. When opening a window for ventilation chose one that a child cannot reach.
- If you have double-hung windows — the kind that can open down from the top as well as up from the bottom — it is generally safer to open the top pane, but growing kids may have enough strength, dexterity and curiosity to open the bottom pane. Don’t assume an unlocked window is childproof.
- Set and enforce rules that your child cannot play near windows especially the activity many kids love – jumping on the bed.