Emergency personnel were called to an Agassiz apartment building Monday evening for a young child who fell from a third floor window. BC Ambulance Service transported the child, heard screaming after the fall, to BC Children’s Hospital, according to RCMP.
BC Ambulance Service reports the patient was transported to hospital in “critical condition.”
Witnesses saw the child fall through the window and hit the pavement below at the three-story apartment building located at 1735 No. 9 Highway.
BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) and BC Children’s Hospital report that in 2013, the most recent available statistics, they cared for 21 children who fell through windows or off balconies.
Paramedics see the critical injuries that result from falls from windows and balconies, most often including broken bones and facial and head trauma.
“If you look after young children or have kids visiting your home, window and door safety locks are your best friend,” said BCEHS Unit Chief Marilyn Oberg. “Little children move quickly and sometimes without reason or warning, so ensuring security locks are in place is a simple and effective safety measure for the warmer months.”
Dr. Ash Singhal is a pediatric neurosurgeon and medical director with the BC Children’s Hospital Trauma Program, and says with rising temperatures, they often see an increase in falls from windows.
“Many of these injuries can be quite severe, including skull fractures and brain injuries and potentially cause long terms effects for the child,” Dr. Singal reports.
BCEHS emphasizes that while it might be tempting to leave a window open a crack to let in some fresh air during the warmer months, remember that young children are innately curious and natural climbers, and do not understand the risk of their actions. They can be strong enough to widen an unlocked window. Toddlers have a high centre of gravity, so even leaning on a screen can cause a fall, likely headfirst, which can lead to serious injuries.
Safety tips to prevent falls from windows:
· Don’t underestimate a child’s mobility; children begin climbing before they can walk.
· Move household items away from windows to discourage children from climbing to peer out. Toddlers may use anything as a step stool to get higher.
· Be aware that window screens will not prevent children from falling through – they keep bugs out, not children in.
· Install window guards on windows above the ground level. These act as a gate in front of the window.
· Or, fasten the windows, so that they cannot open more than 10 centimetres (four inches). Children can fit through spaces as small as 12 centimetres (five inches) wide. In either case, ensure there is a safe release option in case of a house fire.
· Don’t leave children unattended on balconies or decks. Move furniture or planters away from the edges as kids can climb up and over.
· Talk to your children about the dangers of opening and playing near windows, particularly on upper floors of the home.