VANCOUVER – Since last Thursday the Provincial Services Health Authority says its staff has treated six children who have fallen from windows or balconies around the province.
Two children are from the Lower Mainland, one is from Vancouver Island and three are from the Interior.
With more hot and dry weather to come, BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) and BC Children’s Hospital want to remind parents and caregivers to make sure windows and balconies have safety locks on them.
“It’s not even summer yet and we’re already seeing a spike in pediatric emergency department visits due to window and balcony falls,” said Lisa Widas, Trauma Program Manager at BC Children’s Hospital, in a release.
Kids can sustain critical injuries when they fall from windows and balconies – most often including broken bones, facial and head trauma.
“If you look after young children or have kids visiting your home, window and door safety locks are your best friend,” said BCEHS unit chief Marilyn Oberg in a release. “Little children move quickly and sometimes without reason or warning, so ensuring security locks are in place is a simple and effective safety measure for the warmer months.”
BCHES and Children’s Hospital want to remind everyone that young children can be strong enough to open an unlocked window. Toddlers have a high centre of gravity, so even leaning on a screen can cause a fall, likely headfirst, which can lead to serious injuries.
Safety tips to prevent falls from windows:
- Don’t underestimate a child’s mobility; children begin climbing before they can walk.
- Move household items away from windows to discourage children from climbing to peer out. Toddlers may use anything as a step stool to get higher.
- Be aware that window screens will not prevent children from falling through – they keep bugs out, not children in.
- Install window guards on windows above the ground level. These act as a gate in front of the window.
- Or, fasten the windows, so that they cannot open more than 10 centimetres (four inches). Children can fit through spaces as small as 12 centimetres (five inches) wide. In either case, ensure there is a safe release option in case of a house fire.
- Don’t leave children unattended on balconies or decks. Move furniture or planters away from the edges as kids can climb up and over.
- Talk to your children about the dangers of opening and playing near windows, particularly on upper floors of the home.
NOTE: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified all six children as being from the Lower Mainland.