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Child-proof windows and balconies, warns BC Children's Hospital

06/10/2015 03:58 EDT | Updated 06/10/2016 05:59 EDT
BC Children's Hospital is warning parents about the dangers open windows and balconies pose to children, especially during the recent hot dry weather.

The BCCH emergency department has reported treating six injured children who have fallen from windows and balconies over the past six days. 

"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.

"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.

Dr. Ash Singhal, pediatric neurosurgeon and medical director, says falls can be critical and often result in broken bones, face and head trauma. Brain injuries can potentially leave children with serious life long effects.

And because children are innately curious and natural climbers, an open window can pose a greater threat than parents realize, said a release by the BCCH.

Compounding the problem is bug screens, which can give a false sense of security even though they are not designed to prevent falls.

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 ground level. These act as a gate in front of the window.   

- Or, fasten windows, so they cannot open more than 10 centimetres wide. Children can fit through spaces as small as 12 centimetres 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 your home.

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