BEND, OR -- With warmer weather comes an increased danger for young children: open windows. More than 3,000 kids in the U.S. are seriously injured in falls from windows, annually, according to the National Safety Council. Eight die each year. "We’ve seen about 15 children in the last two years, here in Central Oregon, at St. Charles Medical Center, who have been injured in a window fall," St. Charles Trauma Surgeon Jennifer Watters tells KBND News. She says her Emergency Department treated a four year old and a child under the age of two, in May. "When we had our hot week, we saw a couple of kids. They both did alright." But, she acknowledges, not all are so lucky, "With window falls, the injuries can be highly variable. Probably the most common injuries with window falls are broken bones, especially arms, wrists, and head injuries such as concussions."
The risk is even higher in the Pacific Northwest, Dr. Watters says, because so many homes don't have air conditioning. Older homes built before building codes required safety measures, can be especially dangerous, "Current building code requires windows to have installed safety devices if they are greater than 72 inches from the ground," says Dr. Watters, and after-market window-stop guards are available, "Bottom line is that device needs to limit the window opening to four inches or less, and be removable or openable by an adult in case of emergency." She says re-arranging furniture so curious kids can’t climb up to a window, will also help, "Making sure that the bookcase doesn’t sit underneath of the window, or the toy box or dresser that a child might climb on, doesn’t sit directly under the window." And, Dr. Watters suggests parents check with friends and grandparents, to make sure homes kids might visit are safe.