Health Watch -- Window Safety

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

Spring weather usually means more open windows around the house. Just be sure to keep youngsters on the right side of the window.

Accidental falls are generally one of the most common reasons why children have to be hospitalized due to injury. But falls become even more common in springtime when people start using their balconies or open windows to catch spring breezes.

Doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas say children and windows or balconies can be a dangerous combination. Children are naturally curious but lack the experience to understand the kind of danger that balconies and open windows pose. They may lose their balance while trying to look through a window or try to squeeze between the posts of balcony railings.

Dr. R. Todd Maxson, a UT Southwestern surgeon and children's trauma expert, says vigilance and supervision are the keys to keeping children safe. Keep chairs, cribs, beds and other furniture away from windows. Don't let children play unsupervised on balconies, stairwells or high porches.

Don't open floor-level windows on upper floors. Don't rely on window screens to keep children inside. The weight of a small child may be enough to push out a screen.

Measure balcony and stairwell supports. The posts should be less than eight inches apart so that a child can't slip between them or get far enough between the posts to get stuck. 


April 2004