Falls are one of the leading causes of injury in children, and falls from windows are particularly dangerous. As the warm weather approaches, Michael Flaherty, DO, a pediatric critical care physician and researcher in injury prevention at MassGeneral Hospital for Children, shares tips on how to prevent accidental window falls in children.

Who is at risk of a window fall?
All children are at risk of accidently falling from a window, but studies have shown that children between the ages of 1 and 4, especially boys, are at an increased risk. Homes that are located on a second story, or that contain more than one story, have a higher risk of accidental window falls.

What can I do to prevent an accidental window fall with my child?
Some simple steps can help prevent an accident from happening in your home. First, remember that screens are not safe and will not support the weight of a child. Many children who fall from windows do so after leaning against a screen. If possible, open your windows from the top, not the bottom. If you cannot open your windows from the top, put in a window guard or window stop. Always keep furniture away from underneath a window. This can help prevent children from climbing close to the window opening. Lastly, be sure to lock all windows and doors that you are not using.

What are window guards?
Window guards and window stops are available at most local hardware and department stores. Window guards are devices that secure larger openings in the window, and are secured. Window stops are devices which prevent a window from being opened more than 4 inches from the bottom. Both window guards and window stops MUST have emergency release mechanisms that allow an adult to quickly remove them in an emergency.

It is important to make sure they are installed properly. If you rent your home, talk to your landlord or leasing company about availability. Safe Kids Worldwide, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting kids from unintentional injuries, details how to correctly position a window guard.

As always, there is no substitute for the close supervision of children playing in rooms near open windows.

Taking simple prevention measures and closely watching children can help protect them from common injuries, such as drowning and burns. To learn more about how to reduce children's risk of injury, visit the Injury Prevention and Outreach Program website.