Today marks the start of National Window Safety Week (April 7-13). With the seasons changing, and warmer weather settling in, that makes this an especially opportune moment to remind parents of simple but important ways to avoid tragic Oregon injuries to children during the coming months.
Here in Portland this is not an abstract issue. As a recent article in The Oregonian noted, “during one terrible week last June, four children in the Portland area were injured when they plunged through windows to the ground.” I wrote about several of these incidents at the time – see here and here – and salute the work SafeKids Oregon (where I serve as a member of the Advisory Board), the Oregon Public Health Division and Randall Children’s Hospital are doing to raise public awareness of this issue all the year round, but during this week in particular.
The centerpiece of the Window Safety Week campaign is the ‘Stop at 4 inches’ initiative which reminds parents of the importance of keeping small children out of danger by using window stops. As part of the awareness activities taking place this week Randall Children’s Hospital is making window stops and other home child safety gear available through its Hospital Safety Center. On the Washington side of the Columbia River the video blog Vancouver Side has produced a set of helpful videos on window safety to mark this week. You can see them here.
As a recent article in The Oregonian notes, state data indicates that throughout Oregon “rates of children’s window falls decreased 46 percent from 2009 to 2011.” Last summer’s rash of window falls, however, were a reminder for all of us of the ongoing need for awareness campaigns like Window Safety Week. Even one window fall involving a child is one too many, particularly when the steps needed to keep kids safe are so simple. For example, it is always a good idea to keep windows closed and locked when no adult is present in a room, even if the windows in question are fitted with stops. It is also important to remember that screen windows do little or nothing to prevent children’s falls. Parents should not rely on them for safety.
Finally, and most importantly, every parent needs to teach their children to play safely: avoiding windows and screens whenever possible. As a Portland child injury attorney, helping families cope with the aftermath of an Oregon window accident is one of my saddest tasks. Anything that can reduce the number of Oregon children injured in window falls this summer is to be welcomed.
National Safety Council: Window Safety Week homepage