As summer temperatures return to Rocky View County in the coming weeks, Alberta Health Services (AHS) is sharing its annual tips on window and balcony safety to help prevent the risk of injury to young children.
“With the return of warmer weather, many people will want to open their windows and doors,” stated AHS in a press release. “However, open windows and balcony doors can be hazardous for young children.”
According to AHS, six children in the Calgary area were brought to an emergency department in the first four months of 2021 after falling from balconies or windowsills. Last year, 18 cases of injuries related to falling from balconies or windows resulted in emergency department visits in Alberta, According to AHS.
“Every year, this type of child injury results in Emergency Medical Services response, emergency department visits, and in serious cases, hospitalization,” the release stated.
There are several tips people can implement to ensure safety in the home. The press release said to always beware of open windows.
“Remember, screens are not strong enough to keep children in. Install window guards on all windows on the second floor and above. These act like gates in front of windows,” the release said.
In addition to window guards, AHS recommends residents consider installing safety devices that limit the distance a window can open to a maximum of 10 centimetres. Additionally, AHS recommends ensuring your balcony’s vertical railings are no more than 10 centimetres apart.
“Move furniture such as cribs, beds, stools and change tables away from windows to prevent access to the windows,” the statement read. “Outside, remember that furniture and other items stored on balconies and decks can be used to climb, resulting in a fall over a railing. It’s best to remove these if you have children at home.”
Naomi Nania, a public education officer with Emergency Medical Services, said it is important to relay this information to the community every year, as it is often something people don’t think about.
“Something as little as having furniture by a window can be detrimental,” she said. “Not paying attention to these things can add to trauma that can occur.”
Nania said it is important to let parents make judgment calls as to what they do to kid-proof their home, but the tips are meant to be a guide to ensure better safety.
“We are just there to support them and hope we don’t have these cases,” she said. “If we can decrease the number, that would be fantastic for next year.”
According to AHS, toddlers and preschoolers are at highest risk of falling from a window or balcony, but it can happen to people of any age. The agency stated that direct supervision of children is the most effective way to prevent these types of falls and injuries.