Experts warn of window falls during summer

June 30, 2009 3:16:30 PM PDT
The summer season is usually the best of times for children. But the warm weather can also expose them to safety hazards like an open window.During the summer months in Chicago approximately 15 children are hospitalized after a window fall. These falls which can result in severe injuries or even death are preventable.

Children's Memorial Hospital and Kohl's department stores teamed up in 2004 to educate people about the danger of window falls with the Stop the Falls campaign which has decreased window falls by 50 percent. However, children are still falling out of windows.

Five-year-old Owen Allen is fine today and enjoys playing with his siblings. On June 19, Owen fell out of the window located in the den of his Lincoln Park home. He showed me how he hurt his face.

"I fell out of the window about 7 feet," said Owen Allen, window fall victim. "Don't play by the window."

"I heard Owen yell, I looked over and he had gone out the window," said Maggie Allen Owen's mother. "I felt awful. Instantly what came to my mind I just became that person who could of prevented this. He fell between five and seven feet on his face and we are really lucky."

Allen says the reason the windows were open is that her basement had flooded with sewage and she did not want the fumes to hurt the children.

"I am so careful i never open the windows. I let my guard down and out he went it happened in an instant," said Allen.

Children's Memorial Hospital recommends you never open a window more than four inches.

"Parents think windows are high enough but they climb on couches?open a window from top down do not open more than four inches," said Dr. Karen Sheehan, Children's Memorial Hospital.

The doctor screens are not strong enough to stop a fall they give families a false sense of security. She says install window stops on the sides of the window or purchase releasable child safety window guards to protect your children from falling out.

"It is not a burglar bar. We do not want people to be caught if there is a fire," said Dr. Sheehan.

"You can't have your windows open, you know, especially like I did," said Allen.

Allen says her son now warns her about not being too close to the windows.

Since Children's Memorial Hospital implemented the Stop the Falls campaign in 2004. The number of window falls has decreased by about 50 percent.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death among children under age 14.


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