When it comes to living in our homes, one of the benefits of warmer weather is the chance to finally open the windows and let the fresh air in. For our small children, however, if we neglect to take a few simple precautions, those same opened windows can be a serious safety hazard, leading to injury and even death.
According to a 2015 Safe Kids Worldwide Report to the Nation on Protecting Children in Your home about “eight children ages 5 and under die each year as a result of falling out of windows, and 3,300 children are injured” seriously enough to need hospitalization. Yet, the report goes on to say, more than 60 percent of parents surveyed have never used window stops or guards that could prevent a fall.[i]
Other than their natural curiosity and lack of ability to appreciate potentially dangerous situations, one of the reasons children also fall out of windows is because they are top-heavy. Their larger heads in relation to the rest of their bodies mean that, as one doctor noted, “Once they get going out of a window, they’re head first.” [ii] To make sure children are safe when near windows, parents should take the following precautions:
- Remember that screens keep flies and bugs out, but they won’t keep children in. Window screens are not a safety device.
- Keep beds and other furniture away from the windows and limit children’s access to anything they could use to climb up to a window.
- Teach children to play away from windows.
- Every window should be either locked so young children can’t open them or have a safety device installed, such as a window guard, gate or a latch fitted to stop the window from opening more than four inches. [iii] Parents and professionals associated with the “Stop At 4” campaign recommend “Guardian Angel window guards, KidCo window stops or KidCo mesh window guards because these all meet ASTM safety standards.”[iv]
- Use only those guards, gates, or latches that can be opened easily by an adult in case of an emergency.
The summer months can be times of fun, play and family togetherness. Parents are also busy with many other tasks, however, and aren’t always able to supervise young children fully. Taking adequate precautions can limit potential injuries and make sure young children remain safe.