As the weather gets warmer, and families open their windows, they could unknowingly put young children at risk.
Windows are listed as one of the top five hidden home hazards by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, and an open window is one of the biggest springtime hazards to young children.
Young children more likely to suffer severe injuries from window falls
“As far they are concerned, it’s just something else to explore,” says Dr. Alfred Sacchetti, spokesperson for the American College of Emergency Physicians, and Chief of Emergency Medicine at Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in Camden, New Jersey. “If it’s the window behind a couch, the child can easily climb up to the back of the couch, they lean on the screen, and out the window, they go.”
Becky Turpin, director of Home and Community Safety with the National Safety Council explains that some window falls occur because window screens cannot withstand a child pushing against it.
“I think a lot of parents think that screens keep kids in,” says Turpin. “It keeps the bugs out, but it really isn’t strong enough.”
There are harsh examples of this. A 3-year-old fell from a third-story window in New Jersey; a 2-year-old fell from a second-story window in Massachusetts; another 3-year-old fell from a second-story window in Chicago; and, a 2-year-old fell out of a second-floor window in New York City. Fortunately, all four children survived their falls.
But, not all are this lucky. While more than 3,000 children suffer injuries every year from falling out of windows, more than a handful of those falls are actually fatal.
“The accidental death of a child is overwhelmingly the saddest thing that we ever deal with,” says Sacchetti. “There’s no warning… next thing you know, they’re gone. It’s the most heartbreaking thing you’re ever going to deal with [as an emergency physician].”
Most children who fall from windows are 4 years of age or under. These young children are also more likely to sustain head injuries, be hospitalized or die from a fall compared to older children who fall, according to a 2011 study.
“Most devastating and most common is the head injury,” says Sacchetti. “Kids have big heads and that tends to