For most of us, opening the windows for ventilation is a great way to keep our homes cool and enjoy those fresh summer breezes. But for those families with young children, open windows can pose a safety risk.
According to Strataville, each year in Australia around 50 children fall from windows or balconies. 80% of children who were admitted to The Children’s Hospital at Westmead with injuries related to falling from a window had suffered significant or severe injuries, with the majority of these children aged under five.
“These falls often occur over the warmer months when families leave windows and doors to balconies open both during the day and at night. Children aged from one to five years are most at risk as they are naturally curious, but lack the ability to recognise danger,”
– Tracey Gramlick, CEO and Executive Director of the Australian Window Association
Typically, these sorts of incidents happen in one of two ways. One is where children are playing near an open window and they push themselves against the window pane which is then forced open. The other is when a child climbs up on top of furniture near an open window and falls out. The Children’s Hospital at Westmead found that 50% of injuries related to children falling from a window involved furniture near a window.
Fortunately, in recent years, measures have been taken to address the potential dangers around windows in Australian homes. From May 2013, The National Construction Code (NCC) states that ‘any openable bedroom windows in new residential buildings, with a fall of two metres or more to the surface below, require protection to prevent children falling through them.’ The protection itself is required to be fitted to ensure that a 12.5cm sphere (approximate size of a child’s head) cannot pass through and should withstand a force of up to 250 newtons/25kg.
As more and more people embrace apartment living, the number of window falls have increased too, although legislation is being introduced to address this. In May 2018, The Strata Schemes Management Regulation 2016 (NSW), stated that all strata buildings in NSW must be fitted with devices that enable their windows to be locked at 12.5cm when in use.
If you have young children and live in an older home, it’s worth taking extra precautions to ensure your windows don’t pose a risk to their safety.
Here’s a few simple tips courtesy of The Children’s Hospital at Westmead:
- Keep furniture or large objects that children can climb on away from windows. These may include beds, chairs, pot plants and objects light enough for children to drag or carry
- If possible, open windows from the top
- Encourage children to play away from windows and always supervise them when near any potential hazards
- Do not rely on flyscreens to prevent young children from falling out of a window
An alternative to locks is to install a security screen, which allows you to use the window properly with no possibility of a fall. Crimsafe Window Screens can be customised for any style or size of window giving you the bonus of security against intruders without compromising on design. Have a look at our full range of window applications here.