When it comes to child proofing your home certain areas are a given. Things like padding sharp corners or blocking off staircases are obvious places to start, but one area that should be of great concern to parents who have double story homes or live in apartments, is the issue of child window safety. In 2011 the journal Pediatrics published an 18-year study that showed more than 5000 children are admitted to hospital each year with injuries sustained from falling out of windows. Over the course of the 18 year study a staggering 98 400 children were involved in window safety related injuries deemed serious enough for a hospital visit. Of these children 65% were younger than four years and the most common ages were between 1 and 2 making this a particularly at risk age group. The study also showed that children under 4 were the most prone to sustaining more serious injuries.
While keeping your windows closed and locked is the simplest way to avoid window and fall related injuries, this may not be the best route to take. Proper ventilation and fresh air is an important for you (and your children’s) health and wellbeing. That’s why we’ve put together this Child Window Safety primer to help you keep your little one’s safe.
The most important thing a parent can do is make sure their child is supervised while they are playing. But as any parent knows you really need eyes on the back of your head and it is almost impossible to watch your child every second of every day. That’s why it is important to take certain precautions in your home to assist you when you or your child’s caregiver are momentarily distracted.
- Setup children’s play areas away from windows that can be hazardous. This seems obvious, but setting up a designated play area in a safe space in your home is one of the simplest ways to contribute to your child’s safety.
- Teach caregivers and your children that window screens are not necessarily childproof. Screened windows are generally seen as safe, but a lot of cases of child window related injuries occur on windows fitted with screens. Screens keep bugs out, they don’t keep children in.
- Place furniture that can be climbed on away from windows. Children are naturally curious and will seek out new things. If a couch or a table placed too close to a window it can provide easy access
- If a window poses a risk, lock it. When it comes to your child’s wellbeing, it is always better to be safe, rather than sorry. If you think a window could be unsafe rather keep it closed and locked than risk an injury to your child.
No matter what precautions you take, your child will be exposed to open windows. Whether it is in a public space, at school or on a playdate, all buildings have windows and this means it is essential to teach your child about window safety in a way that is appropriate and relevant to their current age.
While specific education may vary from home to home and child to child the National Safety Council (NSC) has provided this coloring and activity book, to help you teach these important safety lessons.
Aside from education and keeping an eye on your little one there are a number of other precautions you can take to help make your home safer. On lower windows it could be a lifesaver to use strategic landscaping to prevent serious injuries from falls. Shrubs below windows as well as grass and woodchips can help, but they should not be the only precautions you take.
Don’t Permanently Seal Windows
We’ve just spent an entire article speaking about stopping children getting out of windows, but sometimes windows can save lives. Windows provide a way to exit the home in emergencies and although this is not an everyday occurrence it could save you or your child’s life in the case of a fire or similar emergency. That’s why it is important to use measures that still allow a window to be opened if the need arises. Painting windows shut is not an option.
Lockable Window Latches
The NSC’s Window Safety Task Force advises that any windows 6 feet or higher off the ground remain locked or are fitted with window restrictor or guard that allows them to open no wider than 4 inches. MiniLatch by LockLatch is designed for exactly these types of scenarios. This ingenious device is made from C304 stainless steel and adjusts between 1.8” and 3.1” making it compliant with safety regulations. The MiniLatch can be fitted to just about any surface and can be unlocked with a key if you ever need to open a window fully.
Cut the Cord
The final aspect of window safety we would like to touch on has nothing to do with falls at all. According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission as many as 650 children visit the doctors annually due to window cord related injuries and these result in the deaths of up to 8 children per year. It is important that you only use cordless window coverings or those with child proof cords. The Window Covering Manufacturers Association provides a list of manufacturers who produce child safe blinds and window coverings,
We hope this article on Child Window Safety has given you some useful information on how to make your home safer for your children. If you have an important safety tip or a story relating to window safety please share it with us via email to Steve on [email protected].
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