Open windows are dangerous fall hazards for young children
Warm weather often means open windows and fresh air within our homes. Although this breeze is often welcome, the dangers that come with an open window are not. If not properly maintained, an open window can come with a fall risk, particularly when it comes to children.
A recent case provides an example. A 2-year-old fell from a window more than 14 feet above the ground. She was rushed to the hospital for treatment. Unfortunately, these types of accidents are not uncommon in Washington. A medical representative from the University of Washington Medicine states that they treat 40 to 50 children for injuries sustained due to falling out of a window every single year. These injuries most often involve curious toddlers, between the ages of two and three years old, who lean forward, popping out a screen as they look through a window. A publication in Pediatrics journal, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, provides additional data, noting falls are the leading cause of nonfatal injuries for children.
How can I reduce the risk of my child suffering this type of injury?
Some steps that can reduce this risk include:
- Safety devices. There are locks and stops that limit how wide a window can open. This reduces the risk the window will open wide enough for young children to lean through and potentially fall out. Officials recommend setting these devices to allow a window to open no more than 4 inches.
- Rearrange furniture. It is also helpful to move furniture so chairs and other pieces that a child could climb are not near a window.
- Do not trust screens. It is important to realize that screens are not meant to withstand significant pressure, but simply to keep bugs out of our homes. Screens can pop out relatively easily and will not keep children from falling.
Unfortunately, even when these precautions are taken accidents can happen.
What are common injuries when children fall from high heights?
Children who fall from a one- or two-story window can sustain relatively minor injuries, like contusions and scrapes, as well as more severe injuries. These more severe injuries can include concussions, fractures, and internal injuries. The severity of injuries is connected to the height of the fall, the material the child lands on and whether or not anything broke the child’s fall on the way down. Falls from three stories or more are more likely to result in fatal injuries.
What if someone else is responsible for the fall?
Liability may exist if the child was in the care of another during the time of an accident or you were visiting another home and the homeowner was negligent with their windows. This can lead to legal remedies which may include funds to help cover the child’s medical bills resulting from the accident. There is a time limit to these claims. As such, it is wise to seek legal counsel to discuss your options.