Dr. Brian Johnston, chief of pediatrics at Harborview and a researcher with Harborview's Injury Prevention and Research Center at the University of Washington in Seattle, says the hospital receives about 50 pediatric window fall patients annually. About one-fourth of these children experience a serious head injury or permanent disability as a result of the fall, Johnston said.
Most window falls are caused by children falling against a window screen. Screens are not designed to support a child's weight, and when the child makes contact with it, the screen pops out, Johnston explains.
Many people are unaware that window falls present a serious risk for children, or they blame the accident on lack of parental supervision.
"People always want to blame the parents, but the truth is most of the parents were observing appropriate supervision at the time of the accident," Johnston said in a statement. "They may not realize that screens won't support their child's weight, or the child may approach the window too quickly for the parents to react in time."
To reduce the risk of window falls, Johnston recommends to:
-- Do not open windows more than 4 inches.
-- Place a guard or stop in the window.
-- Move furniture and boxes away from windows to discourage children from climbing on them to reach an open window.
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