Window Woes

Monday, August 22, 2011 - 7:43am

Experts say simple steps can protect children from surprisingly common danger.

This summer 2-year-old Alvin Aviles fell through an open window from his third story home.

Luckily, an awning broke his fall.

A new study finds cases like Alvin's are common.

Dr. Gary Smith of Nationwide Children's Hospital studied the emergency room records of children treated for falls from windows over a 19 year period.

"What we found is that there are over 5,000 children rushed to ER each year for falls from windows. That equals 14 children a day," he says.

Most of the cases were kids under the age of five.

Experts explain this high-risk group is more likely to climb furniture and not realize the danger of an open window.

Dr. Smith says parent's should not be fooled by windows with screens.

"When we had information about screens, over 80% of the time the child fell through the screen, so they simply won't prevent a child from falling out of a window," he says.

The best way to prevent falls is to install window guards or window stops on all second-story or higher windows, and to move all furniture away from windows.

Campaigns promoting these safety measures in New York City and Boston resulted in a dramatic reduction in children's falls.

"We know what works, we have the ability to apply that model from New York City and boston across the country and reduce these severe injuries to young children," says Dr. Smith.

One out of four children who fell from windows were hospitalized as a result of their injuries, a staggering number for an event that is completely preventable.

Over the 19-year period there was a drop in the number of cases, but it has started to plateau in recent years.

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