Summer is here and that means open windows to catch cool breezes. But if you are the parent, guardian or babysitter of a small child, those windows can also be a source of tragedy.
This became all too clear in San Diego last week for a family whose 11-month-old died. The little girl fell from a third-floor window of her family’s house, and although she was rushed to the hospital, she was pronounced dead on arrival.
This isn’t the kind of case we usually see in the news. The child wasn’t doing anything seemingly dangerous and the parents were not guilty of any wrongdoing. It’s an accident in the truest sense of the word—but it was, nonetheless, preventable.
When the accident happened, the little girl was playing in her bedroom, on her bed, with her father in the next room. But she either pushed against or fell onto the screen of her window, and her weight ripped it from the frame, sending her falling to the ground below. The father and first responders attempted CPR until she could be life-flighted to the hospital, but it was too late.
Sadly, this is not the only such fall that will happen this summer. Every major hospital sees dozens of such victims rushed into their emergency room each year. Most children fall from a second-floor window, since two-story houses are common. Although the majority survive—last week’s incident was the first reported fatality this year—a two-floor fall is a terribly long drop for a toddler or baby. Often, it causes brain injuries that can be lifelong.
Virtually all window manufacturers put warnings on their screen windows that they are not to be leaned against and that they can pose a safety risk. Clearly, even an 11-month-old has enough weight to break through a screen.
Parents can protect their children. The simplest way is, of course, to simply not leave windows open—and to keep them secured with childproof locks. You may need to use fans or air conditioning instead, but it’s worth it for the safety benefit. Older children should be taught never to push on or lean against screens, and it is possible to get child gates to go across open windows, although they need to be rated for your child’s age group and securely installed.
If your child has been injured by a fall from a window, you may have legal options that can help pay for medical treatment and other costs. Contact the lawyers of Steinger, Iscoe & Greene for a free consultation. We will do everything possible to help your family during a difficult time.