Katie Donnelly, MD, MPH, an emergency medicine physician at Children’s National, shared in the Rise and Shine blog that with the weather getting warmer, you might be tempted to open your windows and let some fresh air into your home. But did you know that every year, around 3,300 children are injured by falling from windows? As an emergency medicine physician with a passion for injury prevention, I have some tips for keeping your kids safe and preventing window falls.
Four things you can do to prevent window falls
Children are naturally curious and are inclined to look out windows where there’s a lot of interesting stuff going on. Unfortunately, screens are flexible and are not designed to prevent children from falling out of windows. Even a fall from a two-story window can result in serious injury. Here are some ways to prevent window falls:
- Talk to your kids about the dangers of window falls. Just like learning not to touch the stove when it’s hot and not to play with cleaning products, kids should be warned that window screens won’t protect them and that they can get hurt if they fall out a window.
- Install window guards and stops. Properly installed window guards can prevent unintentional window falls. For windows above the first floor, include an emergency release device in case of fire. Window stops are also a great choice. They allow fresh air and a cross breeze and still ensure windows can’t open wide enough for kids to fall out. These can even be installed with suction cups and can be easily taken with you if you move.
- Open windows from the top and close them after use. If you have windows that can open from both top and bottom, make a habit of opening just the top to prevent accidental falls. Keep in mind that as kids grow, they may have enough strength, dexterity, and curiosity to open the bottom so keep windows locked and closed when they are not being used.
- Keep kids from climbing on furniture near windows. Young children love to crawl and climb, so move chairs, cribs, and other furniture away from windows to help prevent window falls.
If your child does experience a window fall, do not move them if they appear to be seriously injured — call 911 and let trained medical personnel move them with proper precautions.