Open and Shut Case: How to Keep Children Safe Around Windows
7 expert tips on how to protect children from the dangers involved with windows
Have you taken adequate precautions to keep your tot from climbing or falling out of a window? An Anchorage, Alaska family thought they had it figured out… until they got a rude awakening: one night, their two-year-old apparently moved a piece of wood blocking the window of his first-floor room and made his escape.
“In this case we had a very active child, a very wily fellow, and he was able to get out of a window,” a police spokeswoman told local news station KTUU.
Fortunately, this cautionary tale has a happy ending—the child was found safe walking outside—but too many others don’t. Nearly 100,000 children were injured or died after falling out of windows between 1990 and 2008, according to a study published in the journal Pediatrics.
Summer, when adults may open windows for ventilation, may prove an especially dangerous time, safety experts say.
“Parents are often unaware of the dangers associated with falls from open window,” said Kimberly Youngblood of the National Safety Council. “A fall from a window can happen in a matter of seconds.”
When opening a window, Youngblood said, you should be sure it is out of a child’s reach… and here’s how you do it:
- Keep windows closed and locked when they’re not being used.
- Avoid placing furniture near windows to prevent children from climbing.
- Do not rely on insect screens to prevent a window fall.
- Enforce rules to keep children away from playing near windows or patio doors.
- Open windows from the top but keep in mind that as kids grow, they may have enough strength, dexterity and curiosity to open the bottom.
- Install building code-compliant devices designed to limit how far a window will open or window guards with release mechanisms to help prevent a fall. Make sure these devices are compliant with your window manufacturer’s warranty.
- Teach your child how to safely use a window to escape during an emergency.
Some parents go beyond traditional window guards available in stores. California dad-to-be Brian Beltz said he and his wife were so concerned about two openings on their apartment’s patio, they had their landlord install custom wooden slats to block them.
“We have a small dog and he is a little bummed that he can’t stick his head out and watch people anymore,” he said, “but we feel much more comfortable about the idea of being on the patio with a newborn now.”
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