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Falling from windows a serious risk for small children | Column

July 9, 2013 · Updated 3:49 PM
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The following was provided by Harbow View Medical Center:

As the weather gets warmer, Harborview Medical Center sees a significant increase in the number of children needing treatment because they fell from an open window. Each year between 3,000 and 5,000 children in the U.S., most of them toddlers, will experience a window fall.

Dr. Brian Johnston, chief of pediatrics at Harborview and a researcher with Harborview’s Injury Prevention and Research Center, said the hospital cares for 50 pediatric window fall patients annually. About one-fourth of these children experience a serious head injury or permanent disability as a result of the fall.

Most window falls are caused by children leaning against a window screen. Screens are not designed to support a child’s weight, and when the child makes contact with the screen, the screen pops out. Many people are unaware that window falls present a serious risk for children, or they blame the accident on lack of parental supervision.

“People always want to blame the parents, but no child can be watched all the time, and children love to climb and explore. Children and parents alike don’t realize that a window screen cannot protect against a fall,” Johnston said.

To reduce the risk of window falls, Johnston recommends several easy ways to keep a child from falling through an open window. Open double hung windows from the top, and open other windows four inches or less, using a removable stop to control how much the window is open. Another important step to take is to and move furniture and boxes away from windows to discourage children from climbing to get to the window.

Harborview Medical Center is the only designated Level I adult and pediatric trauma and burn center for the state of Washington and the regional trauma and burn referral center serving Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho.


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