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Many of us have heard of the tragic accident involving musician Eric Clapton’s four year old son Conor. Little Conor fell 49 storeys to his death through a large open window that had been opened by a maintenance worker in the Manhattan apartment where he was staying with his mother. It’s believed that Conor didn’t realise the window was open and simply fell through it.
This heart-wrenching event was well documented due to the public status of the boy’s father. Unfortunately however, there are numerous window accidents every day involving children.
Amongst other injuries, around 10 children die each year as a result of falling from windows or balconies. These are tragedies that can be avoided provided we all take the necessary precautions to protect our children.
Windows are attractive. Admiring the view and seeing what’s going on outside is something most of us enjoy doing. This is particularly true for children, many find the view of the street or garden below intriguing. Whether it’s a case of leaning too far forward or deliberately climbing out, children are much more prone to window accidents.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, pre-schoolers are the age group with the highest risk from window falls, with boys suffering more from this type of accident than girls.
So what is it that puts the under 5s more at risk? Lack of common sense at this developmental phase is probably one of the leading factors, coupled with their naturally inquisitive nature. Children at this stage are desperate to explore their surroundings, climbing is very much part of this.
The toddler/preschooler develops extremely quickly, often taking parents by surprise. New moves and tricks are literally learnt in minutes. Hence why so many parents feel unable to leave their little ones alone to even go to the bathroom for fear of what may happen in their absence.
While the plus 5s have more common sense and a good understanding that deliberately hurling themselves out of the window will result in a serious accident, many of the window accidents that occur with older children is due to risky behaviour resulting in falls. This age group has an extremely active imagination. Falls have occurred where children were attempting to climb onto the roof, or climb down the side of the house using a rope or bed sheet, or holding on to any type of greenery attached to the side of the house.
Simply locking all the windows and doors to our homes is the most straightforward solution to this problem, but nobody wants to feel as though they are living in a fortress rather than a home.
Warm weather also increases the number of window related falls. High temperatures during the summer months force us to use windows, and besides, we all know that fresh air is good for our general well being.
So what are the other solutions that we can live with?
Although this may seem painfully obvious, it’s surprising just how many adults put tables, chairs and beds near windows with small children in the house. As we mentioned earlier, small children love climbing and will use just about anything as a mount, this includes toys and furniture that they can manage to manoeuvre. Toys can be stacked on top of each other to make mounts and as we all know, young children climb with no fear of the fall on the other side.
Any home with a second storey window poses a risk to small children. For those that live in houses rather than apartment buildings, another solution worth considering is planting shrubs and bushes below the windows, this will soften the impact of any fall considerably more than concrete or even grass.
This has to be one of the best safety options, allowing you to open your windows and enjoy the benefits of fresh air, without fearing for the safety of your little ones. There are a number of cable window restrictors available on the market that allow you to restrict how far the window opens, however, always do your research. Make sure that you choose a product that has been rigorously tested to UK and EU safety standards before buying cheaper, less safe alternatives from online auction websites.