Remember the sirens, the helicopter hovering this past spring and summer? Remember they were due to children falling out of Snoqualmie windows?
Three children fell out of residential upper story windows in Snoqualmie over the past four months. That statistic really hits home. Every year in the United States, nearly 5,000 children (mostly toddlers) fall out of windows; 28% require a hospital stay and approximately 20 die.
When we think of children falling, we tend to think of falling down the stairs, off playground equipment, furniture or off their bikes. These typical falls can result in serious injuries, but window falls are extremely dangerous because of the heights and hard landing surfaces. A child who falls 10 feet can suffer spinal injury, paralysis and fatal head injury.
“A window screen is not a safety device,” said Snoqualmie Fire Chief Bob Rowe. “It’s designed to keep insects out, not to keep children in. Taking just a few safety precautions and installing proper safety devices on your windows may save your child from serious injury or death.”
Experts warn, though, that no safety device can take the place of adult supervision – and advise always keeping an eye on kids around open windows. Making your home child-safe is an ongoing activity and a life-saving measure.
The Safe Kids website at www.usa.safekids.org has an abundance of information and tools about window safety, childproofing, cooking safety and much more.
Window Safety Tips from Snoqualmie Fire and Police
- Parents should consider using window safety devices such as window wedges or braces, or removing the hand cranks on casement windows. The bottom line is to ensure that windows do not open more than four inches. Toddlers have been known to fall out of windows or get trapped in window openings as small as five inches. Devices need to be able to be removed in a fire emergency.
- Take a moment to secure the curtain pulls or blind cords out of reach. Kids have been strangled while playing with dangling cords. Install safety tassels on the ends of the curtain pulls or cut the loops so a child is less likely to get trapped.
- Keep windows closed and locked when children are unattended. When opening a window for ventilation, choose one that a child cannot reach. Keep furniture and anything that a child can climb on away from windows to reduce the chances of a child falling through a window.
- If you have double-hung windows — the kind that can open down from the top as well as up from the bottom — it is generally safer to open the top pane, but growing kids may have enough strength, dexterity, and curiosity to open the bottom pane. Don’t assume an unlocked window is childproof.
- Set and enforce rules that your child cannot play near windows, especially the activity many kids love – jumping on the bed.
- Strategic landscaping may lessen the extent of injury sustained in the event of a fall. Shrubs and soft edging such as wood chips or grass under a window can cushion potential falls.
- And never try to move a child who appears to be seriously injured after a fall. Call 911 and let trained medical personnel move the child with proper precautions. Of course, if a child is not breathing and you are trained in CPR, follow CPR protocols.