Four children have been admitted to BC Children’s Hospital already this spring after falling from windows.
The hospital’s surgical trauma director, Dr. Robert Baird, is encouraging parents to keep a keen eye on their children’s safety, especially as the weather will only get warmer.
“Screens keep bugs out, but do not keep children in,” Baird said. “The younger a child is, the higher their centre of gravity and the more likely they are to fall head-first through a screen or window.”
Toddlers between the ages of one and four are at a high risk for window falls as they curiously explore their environment.
Windows that open greater than 10 centimeters are considered a risk for injury, Baird said. The best approach is to install a window guard or fastener, which can be found at pharmacies and dedicated toddler stores.
In the case of a fall, Baird advises to assess a child’s level of consciousness, and if they are not responding normally, to call 911. Any child falling greater than five feet with symptoms such as a loss of consciousness or vomiting should be immediately assessed.
Here are a few more tips:
- Don’t underestimate a child’s ability to move around. They start climbing before they can walk.
- Move furniture and household items away from windows to discourage children from climbing.
- Don’t rely on window screens.
- Install window guards on windows above ground level or fasten the windows so they don’t open more than 10 centimetres. Either way, ensure the window has a safe release option in case of a house fire.
- Don’t leave kids unattended on balconies or decks. Move furniture or planters away from the edges to keep kids from climbing them.
- Talk to your kids about the dangers of opening and playing near windows, particularly on upper floors
Between 2010 and 2016, 132 children were treated at trauma centres around B.C. after they fell from a window or balcony. About 85 per cent of them were kids between the ages of one and six, according to the BC Trauma Registry.