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Window safety for the spring: Tips to prevent window falls

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With the recent warm weather, it's a good time to remind parents of the dangers that open windows pose to children.If you have young children in your home, be extra cautious about which windows you open and how far you open them.
“Kids are curious by nature and top-heavy by design, so an open window can be an invitation to trouble,” says Erin Summa, MPH, a Health Promotion Coordinator with the Mary Bridge Center for Childhood Safety.
Falls are not only the leading cause of injury hospitalization in the United States, but Pierce County has the highest number of pediatric window falls in Washington state.
Who is at risk? Particularly boys under the age of 5, but we recommend you secure any accessible windows more than six feet off the ground for all children under age 7.
Tips to prevent window falls

  • Limit window openings to four inches or less by adding a window stop, which can be purchased at a hardware store or online. For 10 percent off a window stop, buy one from Safe Beginnings and use code SKWA from Safe Kids Washington.
  • If a window must be open more than four inches, use an operable window guard instead.
  • Choose window stops/guards that can be removed by an adult in an emergency (but avoid letting your child watch you open one).
  • Only open windows outside of a child’s reach or climbing distance.
  • Keep furniture away from windows to discourage little climbers.
  • Teach children not to play near windows, but don’t rely on them to remember that.
  • Plant grass or shrubbery beneath windows to soften the impact surface in case of a fall.

What doesn’t stop a window fall?

  • Window screens. They are designed to keep bugs out, not kids in! The weight of even a small child will push a screen off.
  • Parental supervision. Caregivers are very often present at time of a fall, but are distracted by meal preparation or caring for other children. Despite our best efforts, we can’t be there every second.

More information
For more information about window safety, call the Mary Bridge Center for Childhood Safety at (253) 403-1234.
MultiCare Health System is a not-for-profit health care organization with more than 11,000 employees and a comprehensive network of services throughout Pierce, South King, Thurston and Kitsap counties.

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