As we welcome spring’s cool breeze, many homes have begun to replace window panes with window screens. Screens were designed to let air in and keep bugs out; they were not designed for kids with safety in mind. Window screens can lead to window-related fall injuries and deaths which often occur in spring and summer between noon and early evening when children are at play and there is minimal supervision.
Falls are the leading cause of unintentional home injury deaths. Reports indicate children are at greater risk of dying or being severely injured from window falls due to head or brain injuries sustained from a window fall than falls associated with other products such as furniture, stairs and playground equipment. Falls are also the leading cause of emergency room visits. Each year, emergency rooms are visited by 5,200 children with window-related falls. Children under the age of 5, toddlers and preschoolers, are considered the highest risk for these types of falls.
Incidents of window falls are not exclusive to parents residing in apartment buildings. Any home with a second-floor window is cause for concern due to the potential risk to a child. When left open and unattended, windows pose a threat to young children; therefore, it is our responsibility, yours and mine, to take the necessary precautions in safely securing windows to ensure the safety of our children.
National Window Safety Week is April 7th – 13th, Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue is urging the public to get involved in our homes, schools and neighborhoods to prevent unintentional injuries and deaths caused each year by window-related falls. Unintentional injuries are predictable and preventable when proper safety precautions are taken. Listed below are a few simple window safety tips to keep our little ones safe:
· Keep windows locked and closed when they are not being used.
· NEVER let children open windows by themselves.
· Teach children to NEVER:
o Lean out of a window.
o Lean on a window screen.
o Play near an open window.
· If you must have open windows, open them from the top.
· Install window guards or window stop devices that prevent windows from opening more than 4 inches (educate family members, older children and adults on how to release window guards in the event of a fire or other emergencies that require evacuation).
· Keep climbable objects such as furniture, beds, toy chests, etc., away from windows.
· DO NOT place toys and other inviting objects on window sills.
· Check to make sure porch and balcony railings are spaced 4” apart or less.
· ALWAYS provide adult supervision for children around open windows or in risky environments.
· If possible, plant shrubs, grass or mulch under windows; in the event of a fall, these may help cushion the fall.
Windows and Fire Safety
Windows play a vital role in fire safety and should serve as an alternative exit when planning a home fire escape plan. Therefore:
· NEVER paint or nail a window shut.
· Windows with security bars should have quick release devices to allow them to be opened immediately in the event of a fire or other emergencies that require evacuation (educate family members, older children and adults on how to release the devices).