A window safety device can save a life
A brotherly bout of wrestling ended in tragedy when four-year-old Anthony fell three-metres through a window, landing unconscious on the concrete below.
Anthony was play-fighting on a bed with two of his elder brothers when he fell backwards through the window behind him..
Anthony was rushed to The Children’s Hospital at Westmead (CHW) for emergency treatment, undergoing cognitive tests and a computerized tomography (CT) scan to check for any brain damage.
Incredibly, Anthony only sustained a minor fracture to his skull and was discharged the next day.
But it could have been far worse.
Dr Susan Adams and Dr SV Soundappan, trauma surgeons at the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network (SCHN), say these accidents are not uncommon.
Falls account for the greatest number of childhood trauma presentations to NSW hospitals. During the period 2009 to 2021, 197 children were admitted to CHW and the Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick, after falling from windows. Balcony falls accounted for 151 admissions in the same time period.
In 2009, 25 children presented to SCHN hospitals after falling from a window or balcony while in 2021, there were 27. Of these presentations, window falls accounted for 48 per cent and 60 per cent respectively.
The most common injuries sustained by children who fall from a window or balcony are skull fractures, internal head bleeds, other fractures, bruising and abrasions. In severe cases, the fall can result in death.
“Young children are naturally curious but lack the ability to recognise danger so it is important for parents and caregivers to be extra vigilant in safeguarding their environment,” Dr SV Soundappan said.
“It is especially important over the warmer months to make sure windows have the appropriate safety equipment installed and to watch kids closely, as injuries from window falls can be very serious,” A/Prof Adams added.
“Move furniture away from windows and balcony edges to prevent climbing and remember and please ensure a lock or safety device is installed on windows.”
“Fly screens prevent bugs from coming in, not children from falling out.”
Under the National Construction Code and NSW Government regulations, all windows two metres or more above the ground in new homes and units must be fitted with a barrier or locking device that prevents them from opening more than 12.5cm.
While the regulations don’t cover pre-existing homes, it is strongly encouraged homeowners follow the same advice and install safeguard features in windows above ground floor.
Since his fall, Anthony’s parents have installed safety devices on their windows so they cannot open more than 12.5cm and are urging other families to do the same.
“I don’t want any family to have to experience what we did," Mirna said.
“There are safety devices out there that can help prevent these incidences so please invest in them. A simple device can save a life.”
For more information on preventing falls from windows and balconies, visit the Kids Health Promotion website.