British Columbia

Make sure to child-proof windows as weather warms, expert warns

Between 2010 and 2016, 247 children under the age of 14 were hospitalized from window falls in B.C.

Between 2010 and 2016, 247 children under the age of 14 were hospitalized from window falls in B.C.

A pediatrician has some safety tips to keep children safe from window falls as the weather warms up. (City of Calgary)

As the weather warms up, the instances of children falling out of windows increases and one expert has a few simple tips to prevent such accidents.

Dr. Ian Pike, a pediatrician with the Community Against Preventable Injuries and an investigator with B.C. Children's Hospital Research Institute, says his team gets very concerned in spring as the weather warms up.

"We know that people will be trying to get the heat out of the windows and using screens," Pike said.

"We know that nobody expects that their child will fall through a window or off a balcony. Tragically, it does happen."

Between 2010 and 2016, 247 children under the age of 14 were hospitalized from window falls in B.C.

One of the problems, he said, is that young children have a much higher centre of gravity, which makes it easier for them to topple forward head first.

"Unfortunately, we see a lot of head injuries," Pike said. "These can affect the child for the rest of their life."

Simple tips

Pike said the first step for parents is acknowledging that it could happen to them. 

"As we all know, parents are very careful," he said. "[But] their child could be the one that is very adventurous, advanced in their competency, and able to explore and climb and grapple up furniture and across sills and so on."

That means parents should be extra vigilant around window space. 

Pike's tips include: 

  • Make sure there are window guards or fasteners on the windows and that they do not open more than 10 centimetres (or four to five inches). A screen is not sufficient. 
  • Remove objects from underneath or near the window to ensure that there's nothing there that can be clambered on.
  • Don't leave children unattended on balconies or decks.
  • Move furniture, planters, barbecues or anything else that children can climb on from the railing of a balcony.

With files from On The Coast

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.