It turns out that April 3-9 was National Window Safety Week, and parents have been looking out to me to offer some tips on this topic that will not be viewed as just a pane in the glass.
No matter whether you live – on the first floor or an upper floor in a house or building –several thousand injuries happen yearly to young children who have fallen out of a window. Some of these injuries are fatal.
So how can you prevent your child from becoming another window-injury statistic?
First, children playing in a room with windows should always be supervised. Windows should be closed and locked when children are present. If open for ventilation, windows need to be at a height where children can’t reach them: it’s best to lower the top half of a two-panel window rather than raising the bottom half.
If your windows don’t lock, there are baby-proofing products such as window guards and window stops that go no higher than four inches, yet are easy for an adult to remove in the setting of a fire.
Screens are not adequate protection. They may keep bugs out, but they do not keep children in. Your child’s health professional can give you guidance, as can a hardware store, on ways to window-proof a specific type of window in your house.
In any given room, furniture, beds or any objects that are stackable should be moved away from windows so kids can’t climb up on them to get to the window sill.
Speaking of the window sill, don’t forget the edges of a sill can hurt a child, so you may need to soften those harsh edges by using the same corner cushions one might use to round off a sharp edge on a coffee table.
Hopefully tips like this will give you a clear view of what to do when you want to prevent your children from falling out of an open window.
Lewis First, MD, is chief of Pediatrics at The University of Vermont Children’s Hospital and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Robert Larner, M.D. College of Medicine at the University of Vermont. You can also catch “First with Kids” weekly on WOKO 98.9FM and WPTZ Channel 5, or visit the First with Kids video archives at www.UVMHealth.org/MedCenterFirstWithKids.