Vancouver/Fraser Valley – The number of children who were treated at BC Children’s Hospital after falling from a window or balcony during the warmer weather months more than doubled in 2017 compared to the previous year.
BC Children’s cared for 15 children injured from a window or balcony fall from May to September 2017, compared to seven children during the same months in 2016. With these alarming statistics, physicians and paramedics from BC Children’s and BC Emergency Health Services strongly urge parents and caregivers to ensure their windows and balconies are secure.
Tips to prevent falls from windows and balconies:
- Don’t underestimate a child’s mobility; children begin climbing before they can walk.
- Move furniture and household items away from windows to discourage children from climbing to peer out.
- Remember that window screens will not prevent children from falling through.
- Install window guards on windows above the ground level. These act as a gate in front of the window.
- Alternatively, fasten your windows so that they cannot open more than 10 centimetres. Children can fit through spaces as small as 12 centimetres wide.
- Ensure there is a safe release option for your windows in case of a house fire.
- Do not leave children unattended on balconies or decks. Move furniture or planters away from the edges to keep kids from climbing up and over.
- Talk to your children about the dangers of opening and playing near windows, particularly on upper floors of the home or in a high-rise dwelling.
While windows and balconies offer relief from hot weather, families must be mindful of the serious safety hazards they pose for young children. By practising window and balcony safety, families can enjoy the benefits of an open window or time on a balcony without the worry of a loved one falling and suffering a serious injury.
Between 2010 and 2016, 132 children were treated at trauma centres around the province after falling from a window or balcony. Approximately 85 per cent of these hospitalizations involved children between the ages of one and six.*
* Data provided by the BC Trauma Registry.
BC Emergency Health Services (BCHES) is responsible for the delivery and governance of pre-hospital emergency medical care and inter-facility patient transfer services through the BC Ambulance Service and the BC Patient Transfer Network. BCEHS is supported by the Provincial Health Services Authority. For more information, visit www.bcehs.ca or follow us on Twitter @BC_EHS.