Each year, 3,500 to 5,000 U.S. children are hospitalized after falling from an open window. These falls are preventable.
Harborview Medical Center, admits 40 to 50 young children annually for injuries sustained in falls from windows. Most window falls happen in the child’s own home and during the spring and summer months. Serious head injuries are common with window falls; other injuries include facial fractures, neck and abdominal injuries, and arm/leg fractures.
Over 94% of the windows that children fall through have a window screen in place. Window screens provide no protection against these tragedies and are likely to contribute to the risk of a window fall.
“Window screens give a false sense of security,” says Dr. Brian Johnston, chief of pediatrics at Harborview Medical Center, the region’s only Level I pediatric and adult trauma center.
“A screen is not a safety device. It’s designed to keep insects out, not to keep children in. Parents of young children need to take other steps to prevent this tragedy.”
One-third of children hospitalized after a window fall require intensive care, and one in four children return home with some disability. As of 2021, about 53% of homes had air conditioning in the City of Seattle, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Sources: U.S. Census Bureau; BMJ Journals: Injury Prevention; Harborview Medical Center
Remember, window screens DO NOT prevent children from falling out a window; instead, they create a false sense of security which contributes to fall risk.
Window screens are designed to pop out for fire safety ‑ the weight of a toddler or child can easily push through a screen. Instead, opt to open a window no more than four inches, to allow for ventilation.
Children ages two to five are at the greatest risk of falling out of a window—and most of these falls are preventable.
Courtesy: UW Medicine, Harborview Medical Center