Every week seems to bring a new safety distinction, and this week is no different. With people across the country opening their windows to bask in the fresh air of spring, safety experts hope to draw attention to National Window Safety Week.
Consumer Reports has released an article detailing the danger posed to children by open windows and outlining what can be done by parents hoping to avert a potential tragedy. The Pediatrics journal recently featured a studied explaining that young kids are particularly susceptible to a fall, with five being the average age of children requiring emergency treatment. For kids younger than that, the potential for head trauma, hospitalization, or even death tends to increase. Of the more than 5,200-plus falls which occur on an annual basis, about 25% entail the child being checked into a hospital.
The good news is there are steps parents and guardians can take to protect their children. The first piece of advice is simply to always be on hand. If you’re in the room with the child, you can cut them off when they set their sights on maneuvering toward an open window.
You can also set up your home to limit your child’s ability to climb out the window. Cribs should be a sufficient distance away so that the kid can’t reach the window, and all other furniture around the home should also not pose a climbing temptation near the window.
The windows themselves can also receive safety attention. Having a screen is great and all, but understand that a screen likely isn’t going to hold the weight of a falling child.
So don’t rely on the screen. Instead, open all windows at the top if they offer that option. You should also invest in window stops and guards. The former can halt a window from opening over four inches, but there should be some sort of child-resistant opening mechanism that allows an adult to fully open the unit should something like a fire break out and require a prompt exit. These should go not just on second floor windows, but ground level windows as well. A child can be injured even if the fall isn’t that high.
One other precaution you can take which has the added benefit of sprucing up your yard is planting flowers or bushes beneath windows. Should all precautions prove futile and an enterprising child still finds a way to climb out, bushes can potentially cushion their eventual fall and prevent some of the more serious injuries that can result.
Finally, speak with children about the danger when they reach an appropriate age. And in the meantime, consider purchasing windows that have been deemed safe. Consumer Reports has a handy guide, so check out the link to learn more.