Window and Balcony Safety!

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boy looking out a window to the neighbourhood

Warmer temperatures are just a few weeks away.  This is the perfect opportunity to remind everyone to check your windows and balconies for safety issues.   

As children begin to explore their home environment with increased curiosity, strength and mobility, they are unaware of the dangers that can lead to accidents and injuries.

apartment building with balconies

According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, falls are the most common cause of hospitalization and Emergency Department visits for childrenIn fact, falls are the second leading cause of accidental or unintentional injury deaths worldwide.

 

The most common injuries that children sustain are fractures of the shoulder, upper arm and forearm - and head injuries. 

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission states that nearly 5,000 children fall out of windows every year and it is considered one of the top five home hazards.

child leaning on the inside ledge of a window

Safety Measures

  • Do not assume an unlocked window is childproof.
  • Window screens are not sufficient to protect your children from falling out of a window because they can be easily lifted, torn or pushed out.
  • Keep your windows closed or install window safety devices. A window guard or window stop will prevent your windows from opening beyond four inches (4") and at the same time, allow an adult to open it fully, if required.
  • Don’t underestimate your child’s strength, capabilities and determination.
house with many windows
  • Educate your children about the dangers of climbing on indoor window ledges and leaning or pushing against window screens with your children.
  • To eliminate the possibility of a child reaching a window ledge, keep cribs and other scalable furniture away from windows.
  • When opening a window for ventilation, choose one that your child cannot reach. Whenever possible, open your windows from the top instead of the bottom.
  • Doors to balconies should be secured with a childproof lock.
  • If you have double-hung windows (the kind that can open from the top as well as from the bottom), I recommend you open the top pane. Please remember, growing children may have enough strength and dexterity to open the bottom pane.
  • Children are often tempted to climb up to apartment windows and balcony guardrails to get a better view. In such instances, a fall can happen in a matter of seconds. Never leave children unattended on a balcony or near an open window.
  • Use barriers to prevent children from climbing to upper floors.
  • Many municipalities require apartment windows to be equipped with mechanical safety devices so they cannot be opened more than 10 cm (4 inches). Make sure the mechanical safety devices are working properly. If you remove or disable the safety devices, you can endanger the life of your child and the children that visit your home.
boy looking out a window to the neighbourhood
  • If you live in a two or three storey family home, strategic landscaping may lessen the extent of injury sustained in the event of a fall. Shrubs and soft edging such as wood chips or grass under a window can cushion falls.
  • Fire escapes, balconies and rooftop areas are 'unsafe' environments for children to play.
  • If you're planning to replace your windows, make sure they have the best safety features and devices.
  • Ensure curtain pulls and/or blind cords with cleats are fastened high on the window frame. Many children have been strangled while playing with dangling window blind cords.
  • Safety devices cannot take the place of adult supervision.

Providing your children with a safe and healthy home environment is not a one-time project – it’s an ongoing responsibility!

Resources

For additional information, Diligencia Investigative Reporting recommends the following articles:

World Health Organization – Fact Sheet for Falls

Diligencia Investigative ReportingNationwide Provokes Awareness for Preventable Injuries to Children

Diligencia Investigative ReportingGovernment of Canada:  New Regulations to Prevent Child Strangulation

Additional Resources

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